My work through Shared Future CIC allows me to follow my personal passion for empowering individuals and communities. I lead on business development and partnerships, and I also do lots of the direct delivery of our projects.
I coordinate PB Partners, a team of participatory budgeting experts and I’m on the steering group for the UK PB Network and the advisory board of the North American PB Project. Participatory budgeting is recognised worldwide as an effective way for empowering local communities and a model of best practice in public and democratic engagement.
But I have lots of other professional interests. I have worked with the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organistion (GMCVO), developing a new community renewable energy project. I was a long term director, until October 2019, of the Social Enterprise Network for Lancashire. Previously I was employed by Lancaster University Management School, specialising in social enterprise (SE) research and development and still support Shared Future’s own Social Enterprise offer, including promoting the sector in Greater Manchester.
“Speaking with Jez at Shared Future was a real eye-opener for us. He helped structure our ideas in a very skilful way, and advised us how our cooperative might grow. He was generous with his time, and clear with his advice. His expertise has been invaluable. Thank you!”—RICOL Ltd, a London based cooperative providing language services
Outside of Shared Future I undertake my own work, gaining international experience with organisations such as the World Bank and the Swedish Association for Local Government. I’ve travelled widely to international conferences and written for and contributed to academic research on social and democratic innovation. I have participated in a number of research led international learning exchanges, and frequently partner with organisations and individuals doing similar work or sharing a common interest. Such as my involvement with Jam and Justice, looking into co-production and urban governance.
Before helping to set up Shared Future, and before working at Lancaster University Management School, I spent over 10 years working as a project development officer for an architecture charity. Supporting community groups on developing capital projects such as new parks, youth centres or saving heritage buildings. Providing group facilitation, project management, technical advice, and business planning expertise to community organisations. As well as undertaking feasibility studies and delivering training on topics like community building management and social impact.
Between 2005 and 2007 I was a non-executive director of a North West Primary Care Trust, which coordinated over £500m of public spending annually to run health services across the central area of Manchester. In 2012 I worked for the University of Westminster’s Centre for the Study of Democracy supporting Participedia’s international database of democratic participation.
I think it’s important to be active within a community in a voluntary capacity. For example, I’m involved in the transformation of a closed public library into a community led centre for arts and culture. I’ve been chair of my neighbourhood association, and once even stood to be a local councillor. I like to play my part towards making a positive difference to a community, an organisation or an individual, and through that participation contribute to the well-being of others.