Géraud de Ville de Goyet

"The most exciting thing about Barking and Dagenham is the relentless energy of its social sector to experiment, innovate, and to learn."

What got you interested in working in Barking and Dagenham?

Barking and Dagenham reminds me of some of the mining towns of the South of Belgium, my home country. Sometimes nostalgic of their industrial grandeur they have tirelessly sought to turn their past into an asset, and to reinvent themselves by building on, not around, their strong identity and community spirit. I find this really inspiring and I am proud to be part of this local movement for change. 

What are your hopes for the borough?

As a new social infrastructure organisation for the borough, 2020 has been quite a year for us. The pressure created by the pandemic on the local social sector means that we have had to identify ways to distribute grants much faster than what we could have anticipated. We have also secured an agreement with the Council to establish a Community Endowment Fund, which will leave a legacy for future generations.

I am well aware that this creates a lot of expectations and responsibilities on my part, and rightly so! I am determined to see Barking and Dagenham Giving become a pillar of the borough’s social infrastructure, enabling others to do what they do best: working with and supporting our local community. 

What are your hopes for the borough?

I want Barking and Dagenham to succeed in its ambition to create an inclusive – and I would add – sustainable economy. From redesigning high streets around community needs to the delivery of affordable housing for everyone, from rethinking personal and collective mobility to delivering local plans to address the climate emergency, I want everyone to feel they have a stake in their community and to know their opinion matters.

How do you think the community can help achieve those goals?

Positive change can only happen by working alongside people. That is why we have set out to be the borough’s first Participatory Grant Maker. By this I mean that our goal is to remove ourselves as much as possible and facilitate a process that enables others to make decisions on how our funding should be allocated. This is not a straightforward thing to do and we often encounter unexpected challenges, but the relationships we are developing along this path are absolutely amazing and worth all our efforts!

de Ville de Goyet

Chief Executive

Géraud holds a Ph.D in Participatory Action Research, and has harnessed his specialist expertise in social policy, design and systems thinking to support community participation and empowerment in the UK and abroad.
Having moved from Belgium to the UK in 2012, Géraud worked in public policy and strategy roles at London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, and co-founded Cobra Collective – a unique social enterprise supporting community owned solutions, working globally to achieve social and environmental change through partnerships and collaboration.