Species: Homo conscious
Michael Norton has changed the face of social innovation in Great Britain. Over the past thirty years, Michael has created several highly successful socially progressive programmes, which effect thousands of lives all over Great Britain. He founded the Directory of Social Change (DSC), the UK’s leading agency providing information, training and support to voluntary organizations, which he ran from 1975 to 1994. In 1998, he was awarded the OBE for his services to charity.
He has been active in this field since 1965 when he set up the UK’s first volunteer programme to tutor incoming migrant children and families in English, and organised a centre staffed entirely by volunteers for Bengali children in London’s East End to teach English and provide recreational activities.
In 1994, Michael took the lead in setting up Changemakers, a national organisation which enables young people to address community issues or problems that concern them by setting up a project to address these issues. The slogan of Changemakers is “Young people lead the change; adults support the learning”. Changemakers works across England, has a network of young advocates and works in schools to promote active citizenship and enterprise education.
In 1995, he set up the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action (CIVA) to promote innovation and new thinking for voluntary action. CIVA’s current work includes: developing schemes in the UK and internationally which promote young people’s community involvement; supporting the development of street children’s banks in South Asia, which provide facilities for keeping money safe, encourage saving and offer loans to set up small enterprises, and which are run entirely by the children; village publishing and village libraries in India to bring information to rural people in appropriate and affordable ways.
In 1998, he developed the idea of YouthBank, which gives young people the opportunity to donate money to local causes, with the emphasis on supporting projects run by young people. This is now being rolled out as a national programme. There are now around 75 YouthBanks in the UK. The idea is being spread internationally, and the pilot programme in India let to the setting up of a Street Children’s Bank which Michael helped develop and extend into Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka..
In 2002, Michael established the annual “Voices of Change” international summer school for young activists. This is operated through a company run entirely by young people.
In 2000 Michael convened a small group which went on to set up UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, which received a £100 million endowment from the Millennium Commission in 2003 and now makes over 1,000 awards a year to enable individuals with ideas of social benefit to get started. UnLtd has also launched a £4 million a year youth awards scheme which will make awards to young people aged from 11 up to 25.
Michael Norton is a Founding Trustee of UnLtd, and also a Trustee of Just Change which promotes fair trade and of The Global Ideas Bank.
Michael’s current projects include The Otesha Project in the UK, where young people promote ideas of sustainable living in a fairer world to other young people, MyBank which is a children’s banking programme promoting enterprise and financial literacy, launching “tap” Water, which will be a campaign against bottled water, and developing action by residents in London and Bristol to create a carbon neutral council housing estate.
From the bottom of the world
In 2002-05, Michael wrote and published a series of practical workbooks for young activists. How to be a Community Champion was published in 2002 and sponsored by the government’s Community Champion’s Fund; the text of this was adapted to become the centrepiece of the BBC iCan Manual accompanying the website of this citizenship initiative. How to be a Fundraising Champion was published in 2004
Michael Norton’s latest books:
Need to Know: FUNDRAISING (Collins, 2007)
THE EVERYDAY ACTIVIST (PanMacmillan, 2007)
The Complete Fundraising Handbook, 5th edition, with Nina Botting, Directory of Social Change, 2007
His backlist titles are:
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