This year’s Annual General Meeting, held on 5th November, was a bittersweet event. While DSN-UK has had lots to celebrate, it was also time to say goodbye to two significant people in the organisation.
Corinne Lennox, our Chair, was at the helm and was delighted to welcome such a large number of attendees from across the globe for our first Virtual AGM. The Annual Report & Accounts were presented by Kate Solemeyina, DSN-UK Treasurer and she was pleased to announce that for the year ending March 2020, our accounts are looking healthy, and despite the pressures that the pandemic and lockdown have caused, we have good reserves to see us through the next few months – though future funding, as always, remains a priority.
We welcomed a new trustee, voted in at this meeting. Bala Gnanapragasam has been a Labour councillor for the London borough of Lewisham, and served on a number of charitable bodies, including Change Alliance (India), Age Exchange and Christian Aid. We welcome his skills to the Board and look forward to working with him.
Meena Varma took us through the Annual Review and the highlights and challenges over the last year, and Danni Kleinaityte presented our newest campaign on ‘Everyday Casteism’.
The highlight of the event was two incredible presentations. The first came from Andrés Huesos of WaterAid discussing the ongoing issues of sanitation workers, particularly in the light of the Covid-19 crisis, and what steps need to be taken in order to change the current situation. This was followed by Bezwada Wilson from Safai Karmachari Andolan, reflecting on the 10 years since the DSN-UK campaign ‘Foul Play – End Manual Scavenging’ and the impact in India. Both presentations are available here.
On a sadder note, David Haslam has stepped down from the Board after twenty years’ service to DSN-UK. A founding member of the charity, many of the AGM’s attendees gave testament to what an inspiring figure he has been over the years, and the energy and effort he has put into supporting the cause of ending caste-based discrimination.
The second member of the team leaving us is Meena Varma, our Director, who has seen the charity through significant changes. Danni prepared a wonderful tribute in the form of a video to celebrate the highlights of Meena’s time with us, and honorary chair Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech in which he praised both her dedication and determination to change things. Several other members also added their thanks to her, and we wish her the best in her role as Executive Director at the International Dalit Solidarity Network.
Our thanks go out to the Board, our special guests and all the attendees for a highly successful event.