Vidhya Alakeson steps down as CEO of Power to Change to join Labour leader Keir Starmer’s team

Power to Change today announced its CEO Vidhya Alakeson has stepped down to become director of external relations for Keir Starmer, the leader of the UK’s main opposition party, Labour. Alakeson has led Power to Change since its inception in 2015.

Power to Change, an independent trust that supports community businesses in England, was created as a time-limited spend-down trust seven years ago. It received an initial £150m endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund to invest in community businesses, defined as those led by the local community and trading for community benefit.

The trust was due to wrap up activities in 2022, but was extended until 2026 last year thanks to an additional £20m Lottery funding, albeit with a smaller team.

Alakeson said her new role would be “an exciting step to deliver social change from a new vantage point.”

The community business leaders I have met are inspirational, helping to transform their neighbourhoods

She joins Labour’s team at a time when the party has not yet replaced Rachael Maskell who stepped down as shadow civil society minister in December, leaving many in the social enterprise and charity sectors concerned about the party’s recognition of the significance of their work. 

Shadow minister for environment Alex Sobel tweeted: “Welcome onboard , great to have such an influential figure from #socent join us.”

Alakeson said: “It has been a real privilege to lead Power to Change over the last seven years and to support the growth of the community business sector from 5,500 businesses to over 11,000 – all delivering vital services to local people.

“The community business leaders I have met are inspirational, helping to transform their neighbourhoods, and it has been a pleasure to collaborate with exceptional partners to address local needs and drive regeneration.”

Power to Change has invested more than £100m in community businesses, particularly those in the most disadvantaged parts of the country.

Alakeson added: “I am proud of everything we have achieved, and of the dedicated team I have worked with. There are still big challenges ahead, if we are to create more opportunities for people across the country, but I am confident Power to Change will continue to deliver remarkable things.”

I am confident Power to Change will continue to deliver remarkable things

Power to Change said it would shortly begin a recruitment process for a new CEO. In the interim, the organisation will be led by Tim Davies-Pugh, currently director of strategy and programmes, who has worked with Power to Change since 2017. Alakeson, while she stepped down today, will support the trust to ensure a smooth transition until the end of this month.

In a statement, the trust said: “The board and team at Power to Change will miss Vidhya’s leadership, energy and expertise and thank her for her outstanding contribution to the sector, hard work and dedication over the last seven years.”

Before joining Power to Change, Alakeson held senior positions at NHS England and the Resolutions Foundation, and was a senior policy adviser to the Treasury earlier in her career.

Alakeson was not available for comment on her new role today.


Top picture: Vidhya Alakeson, photo courtesy of Power to Change

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