‘With’, not ‘to’: the meaning of solidarity in an age of austerity

Madeleine Clarke

Solidarity provides philanthropy with the opportunity to move beyond benevolence to identifying with the experience of those who need our support as they face many and varied challenges. Whether you are committed to providing a better response to refugees, tackling educational disadvantage and youth unemployment, ending homelessness, creating a more sustainable environment or helping to eradicate poverty and famine – human solidarity is the prerequisite for doing things with people rather than to or for people.

For example, the successful marriage equality campaign in Ireland focused on establishing solidarity between gay and straight people by highlighting the need for equality for all.

The international mental health recovery movement is based on the belief that it is possible for someone to regain a meaningful life, despite serious illness, and emphasizes the co-production of services designed so that consumers have primary control over decisions about their own care.

These movements work because the people for whom change matters most have more skin in the game, a greater sense of urgency and less to lose.

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