Imran Sanaullah MBE, CEO Patchwork Foundation

Together, Patchwork and Big Tent hope to ensure that diverse voices across the country can re-engage with politics; to start working towards solutions founded in empowerment, unity, and understanding.

A number of studies have been conducted over the past few years regarding youth and civil society, and there is an emerging consensus; trust in our democracy is falling.[1] Inequality, division, and stagnation have been steadily alienating and frustrating the youth of today. This is doubly true of those from underrepresented and disadvantaged communities, and given that – although the current Parliament is the most diverse it has ever been – politics is still governed by a certain section of society, ‘underrepresented’ currently describes large portions of Britain’s population.

The Patchwork Foundation was founded in 2011 to promote and encourage the positive integration of minority and underrepresented communities into British civil society. We still believe that our democracy is a powerful force for good, but that it is only as strong as the range of the voices within it. We are not affiliated with any political party and we do not promote a particular political view. Our programmes work to equip young people with the necessary skills, experience, and confidence to encourage active participation in mainstream politics. Our goal is to help people from a diverse range of backgrounds reach positions from which they can positively influence the decisions impacting our nation, and our inspirational alumni are now working in the Police, Parliament, City Hall, the Civil Service, and leading charities and businesses.

” Politics is still governed by a certain section of society, ‘underrepresented’ currently describes large portions of Britain’s population”.

But there is still so much to be done, and central to our efforts is creating a safe space in the midst of a highly divisive political landscape for our Patchworkers to engage with and explore their own political leanings, to gain confidence in their voices, and to debate one another in a constructive, understanding and respectful manner.

This is precisely why we are thrilled to be working with Big Tent and its Ideas Festival. Focused on healing divisions, making politics accessible to everyone, and bringing people from all walks of life together, Big Tent is fostering this safe space. Its invitation to all members of British society to engage with an astonishing range of social and political challenges promises to kick-start a renewal in grassroots democracy, while its environment of collaboration and honesty is ushering in a new kind of positive politics. Their tremendous growth and success over the past four years is evidence not only of their fantastic work in this area, but also of the enormous appetite amongst the public for the change they are encouraging.

Patchwork Foundation

Founded in 2011, the Patchwork Foundation is a UK-based charity committed to strengthening democracy. We are focused on communities and individuals that are traditionally underrepresented, and seek to engage young people from these communities to encourage their positive integration into British democracy and civil society. We are not affiliated with any political party and do not promote a particular political view. We do, however, work on the promotion of mainstream political and social participation and work with the main political parties and democratic institutions to support this agenda.

Imran Sanaullah MBE

Imran became CEO for Patchwork in 2016. He has overseen the Foundation’s successful transition from company to charity status, introducing a new trustee board, expanding the number of beneficiaries the charity supports and bringing in long-term funding enabling the foundation to further improve the depth and breadth of its work. Imran has been recognised by the likes of HRH the Prince of Wales, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and former Prime Minister the Rt Hon Theresa May MP for his hard work in improving opportunities for those from the most disadvantaged and minority communities in the UK through his work with the Patchwork Foundation, Naz Legacy Foundation, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Mosaic Network (part of the Prince’s Trust).Imran was awarded an MBE in Her Majesty’s Birthday Honours List in 2019 for services to young people.

[1] Blackwell, Joe et al., ‘Audit of Political Engagement 16: The 2019 Report’, Hansard Society (London, 2019); ‘2020 Edelman Trust Barometer’, Edelman (2020); Warman, Matt, ‘Who Governs Britain? Democracy and Local Government in the Digital Age’, Centre for Policy Studies (London, 2018).

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