It happened. A referendum – a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part – was held on Thursday 23 June, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 52% to 48%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting.
It would be no understatement to say that the UK’s historic vote to exit the European Union shocked and devastated us.
As the first Impact Hub in a global network that has over the past decade grown to 80+ locations over 5 continents, we know we are stronger together. We believe in the value of community, in the power of global networks, and in the strength of collaborating with unlikely allies for a better world. Everyone is, and will always be, welcome at Impact Hub Islington.
What to do? Days after the result, Impact Hub Makers are bustling with ideas on what to do next. We know this is the start of a wider discussion and we don’t claim to have the answers, but we can start sharing our thoughts with you:
“My sense, with great pain, that the brexit vote is a manifestation of deep structural challenges here and across the world – growing structural inequality, an economy of work designed to operate with fear and control, the benefits of productivity not being distributed into wages – all combined into a cocktails of political expediency. Our role as Impact Hub Makers – is interesting – I increasingly think we need to move past the labels (brexiter or remainer) to focus on the structural issues and real structural systemic solutions. How can Impact Hub move to accelerating change at this structural level?”
Indy Johar, Impact Hub Birmingham
“This is a massive wake-up call and we have to go beyond grieving very quickly and face the underlying trends, the structural insecurity and disconnection people suffer from that express themselves in xenophobia and the other nastiness we are seeing. The difficulty for me is that we have seen & in many ways been part of 15 years of engaged, serious, well-meaning, smart practice in the ’social innovation/social enterprise/social impact’ scene (call it what you want) and for all the great stuff achieved (and no doubt, worse prevented)…but, now it seems it just hasn’t been enough. Not relevant enough, not impactful enough, not participative enough, not strategic enough, not systemic enough, and not strong enough in a context where the odds have been stacked so unfairly. That is a massive challenge to all of us working in this space. Let’s take it as “challenge accepted” and go for it, and let’s do it together in the full sense of the word – together as Impact Hub teams, together with local membership & non-member networks, together with a range of new collaborators, together with the 52% as well as the 48%.”
Joost Beunderman, Impact Hub Islington & Brixton
“For better or worse last Thursday was the highest UK voter turnout since 92. The media has gone mad, politicians are dropping like flies, and my facebook friend [X] (who didn’t previously have a political bone in his body) is spamming me with updates. It feels like a crisis, and history shows us that crises are ideal moments for wider change. Is there appetite for us to play a leadership role in convening people (politicians, residents, developers, grassroots activists, etc) to reimagine UK politics at whatever level? To host U.Lab sessions convening MPs, councillors, developers and community groups around housing / childcare / meaningful work? To host ‘bootcamps’ where people from around the UK come to learn, and later replicate, civic models like urban growing hubs or lending libraries?”
Bex Trevalyan, Impact Hub Brixton
“Amongst the statistics of who voted remain, as well as the educated, young and urban, you can add the areas where there is the most immigration. In other words, where people actually do mix with migrants, we are not afraid. Fundamentally, we have a huge swathe of society that has felt disenfranchised, and now they have spoken. They used to have a voice through the Unions and Labour Party. With Thatcher and Blair, the political scene changed so much that is no longer the case. Brexit is like the UK version of Trump – two fingers up to the establishment. So, if we really want to make a difference we (mostly educated middle class people) need to get listening and connecting with those who are most feeling the pain.”
Devi Clark, Impact Hub Kings Cross
This is the beginning of something. For better or worse, Brexit was a wake up call. Watch this space and join the discussion. We want to hear your thoughts, your challenges, your solutions – because together we are stronger.