It is often said that the Commonwealth and the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) within it must be continuously evolving to change with the times and to find new ways of working even more effectively to bring change to people’s lives. Just under a fortnight ago, the RCS made the latest step in this evolution. Along with the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and the Commonwealth Games Federation, the RCS has become one of the founding organisations of the new Commonwealth Hub. Situated in the newly named Commonwealth House on Pall Mall in London, the Hub contains refurbished offices and meeting space for resident organisations.
The Hub is more than just a new office. Over the last few years, the RCS has benefited from co-operation and cohabitation with the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation at Award House, London. We wish them well in their fantastic work in building young people’s leadership, a cause we also share. The Hub sees us gain new neighbours and a chance to deepen collaborative styles of working and relationships with other Commonwealth organisations. In the first few months we will look at ways to promote each other’s existing work, combine office support and inter-organisation communication and explore possibilities for future projects. The move also brings us closer to the Commonwealth Secretariat, which began strengthening partnerships with Commonwealth accredited organisations, such as the RCS, under Kamlesh Sharma and has continued this under Secretary General Baroness Scotland. The Hub is a sign that the Secretariat’s support for the wider Commonwealth family will continue.
The need for the Commonwealth network, in all its diversity, to work collaboratively and visibly is apparent now more than ever. The Hub represents a new chapter in these efforts but it should not stop there. The principles of all organisations working together will be key to multiplying our efforts. If feasibly and practically possible, we support the idea of creating more space for other Commonwealth organisations to access hot desk facilities when in London and to build spaces for public connections to the Commonwealth and the work of the family of organisations that operate under this banner. In the future, Commonwealth Hubs might not be confined to London, the idea could be replicated to bring the operations of Commonwealth organisations closer across the Commonwealth. The Hub therefore has the potential to be a truly 21st century model for cooperation and public engagement for the strong networks that characterise the Commonwealth in the promotion of its values and relevance.