This is a call for participants from the UK (and elsewhere in Europe) to support the growth and development of democracy in Belarus by joining online discussion groups focusing on building understanding and knowledge.

I have been working with colleagues in Europe and Belarus to build this project which is vitally important during this time of protest and change.

Credit Sergei Stepanov, Minsk

Belarus has been living under the dictatorship of Lukashenka since the mid-1990s. People’s experience and knowledge of democracy as a result low. The interest and willingness to explore and learn is currently significant. People demonstrate daily on the streets, at the…

Belarus — arrest & imprisonment — personal testimony of Sergei Stepanov, Minsk

This interview was carried out by Marieke Genard from Belgium. Kate Gallant prepared the transcription. Both Marieke and Kate have known Sergei for many years through their work with Service Civil International. Sergei has retained contacts with many partners from the former Soviet Union and from SCI. It was important to us that his experiences were heard. The transcription has been written to represent Sergei’s own narration. Notes have been added for people who are not following the situation in Belarus so closely. We hope that you find…

I wrote this piece back in July and shared it only with a few friends. I’m now making it public — this was prompted by the disappearance of an old friend from Minsk —Sergei Stepanov — who has recently been released from prison in Belarus — his photography work is both poetic and idiosyncratic and part of what started me thinking about the revolutionary role of communities in bringing about change. I’ve included with his permission some of his photos from Belarus.

Through many years I’ve had an interest and commitment to the role of communities — using an increasingly…

Schools across the UK are currently closed to the majority of students. Teachers and many others who produce online learning materials are providing a wide range of input to support children’s education.

My interest in this area comes from 2+ years coordinating a UK wide digital inclusion community of practice for One Digital UK, and from several years as a governor at both a mainstream and alternative provision school. Whilst working for a social housing provider I granted funding to a local school to support their rolling out an tablet loan scheme.

Access to education is a basic human right…

It’s a long time since I’ve had to reflect on living in truly troubled times and how they impact on the people around me. Many years ago I was in the Soviet Union, then Russia, when two political coups took place. It was a time of much fear and also much economic and political change.

You might think this was a different experience, but I’ve realised how much they are likely to be similar — the coups that led to the breakdown of the Soviet Union and the current COVID-19 pandemic — will bring huge changes to what people value…

Having a break from paid work is positive in allowing time for contemplation and reflection. Currently I’m remembering how I can breathe, pause and create — finding a positive cycle. Recognising that I’m lucky to be able to have time to give to this.

Inevitably I’m also thinking about the many partners (around 400) that I’ve engaged with during the last couple of years. The level of contact varied but at all times I’ve been struck by how many in the voluntary sector are engaged in promoting positive information and finding positive solutions to the social issues we work with…

Attending a workshop facilitated by the Centre for Social Informatics in Edinburgh challenged my current thinking on the role of Digital Champions.

We promote Champions as being an excellent source of person-centred support for building the confidence of people with low/no digital skills.

Embedding Champions into services most in contact with people who are digitally excluded (for instance providers of social housing, money advice services or mental health support) is a great way of giving people a digital nudge and sometimes of solving a particular digital problem.

Is there a difference between this digital problem-solver role and the role of…

Kate Gallant

Community investment & service improvement professional working in the voluntary sector and social housing

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