Kamran Riaz

Location: England, Greater Manchester, Stockport Speciality: Social Care, Healthcare, Third Sector, Marketing

Kamran began his career in the media and publishing industry, working as writer, editor and researcher for a number of business-to-business publications including in-house magazines for the Manchester and Glasgow Chambers of Commerce. Following this, Kamran would go on to specialise in digital / website copywriting and content management, working on projects for The Co-operative Group in Manchester, the North West Federation Of Museums And Art Galleries (NWFED) and the Department For Children, Schools  And Families (DCSF). 

Kamran was a young and adult carer for his two siblings who suffered from Friedreich’s Ataxia (an autosomal recessive genetic disease), and as a result had to take time away from work at various stages over a 20-year period.  Like many ex-carers, Kamran has come to terms with the impact that this role has had on his well-being and how this might affect his future capacity to work. During this challenging time Kamran started to recognise that the skills, knowledge and experiences he had gained as a carer were of value, and that he did have something to offer beyond his caring role. 

Kamran was able to use these skills and attributes in a positive way when he started to volunteer by joining the board of trustees at Signpost Stockport for Carers in 2018 – eventually being appointed as deputy chair of the charity in 2019. During his time at Signpost, Kamran introduced the organisation to social accounting – helping to implement aspects of the process and leading on stakeholder engagement work. He also helped the charity on governance issues including board development and recruitment as well conducting strategic reviews.

As part of that role. Kamran networked extensively with different individuals and VCSE organisations to broaden his knowledge of the third sector and in doing so gained an understanding about various important issues including:

  1. Having a more co-ordinated approach to service delivery in the sector and how this could ease the pressure on health and social care system. 
  2. How organisations can differentiate themselves in an overcrowded ‘market’ and not duplicate services – working more collaboratively through asset sharing (space, knowledge, ideas and training)
  3. Focussing on early action and prevention in tackling isolation, poverty and inequality in the community
  4. Promoting culture change in the sector – moving away from top down solutions towards a  a more bottom-up approach.
  5. Understanding that funders and trusts are placing a greater emphasis on outcomes and evidence of lived experiences (not just outputs), where service users and communities play a lead role in project applications and funding bids.

As a trustee, Kamran believes good governance is the key to the long-term success of any charity organisation, so it is important to understand about best practice. Over the last 18 months he has taken courses including: the Cranfield Trust’s ‘Working Effectively with your Board’ masterclass as well the acclaimed Trustee Leadership Programme (2018, 2019) and the Emerging Chairs’ Programme in 2019 (delivered by Cause4 in partnership with Close Brothers Asset Management and the Clothworkers’ Company).  As a result, Kamran is able to provide insight on a variety of issues such as the key responsibilities of trustees, governance and strategic planning, charity finance and fundraising.

Kamran is a member of the Accounting for Social Good Network in Stockport where he has learnt about the value and importance of stakeholder engagement and using the social accounting process to:

  1. Monitor outcomes and measure social impact.
  2. Develop an organisation’s key messages and implement a joined-approach to strategic planning and governance, so that everyone is working together towards meeting shared organisational goals.
  3. Explore an organisation’s culture to identify possible risks and opportunities for improvement and progress.
  4. Encourage organisations to be accountable to their stakeholders by placing them at the heart of their plans, and giving service users an opportunity to identify the matters that affect them the most, and a chance to come up with potential solutions. 

To support his learning from the network, Kamran took the following courses: Storytelling with Data (Open Data Manchester) and Gathering Stories (Manchester Community Central). These focussed on using data (stories) more effectively to create powerful narratives about the issues faced by disadvantaged people in society and how organisations and policy makers can demonstrate their impact by capturing the lived experiences of service users. Kamran is interested in exploring how different models of engagement can be used to bridge the gap between marginalised groups and those in positions of influence where meaningful dialogue can lead to change in future policies and practice.

Kamran is an advocate for carers rights and has contributed towards the GMCVO’s Caring, Working Living Panel, with his views on flexible working; helping carers with their transition back into work  and careers; why employers should value the transferable softer skills and qualities that carers have gained during their time away from paid employment, and how these can be nurtured and developed.

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