Social Access: Towards an equitable society

12 Apr,2013

On occasion of Launch of Social Access (Frm L to R) Abhilash Tomy, Lynn de Souza, Meenakshi Menon, Mark Inglis, Sarah Wilson (In sitting position) with children

 

By Ritu Midha

 

The launch of an organization or initiative is usually an event one dresses up for. So it was a surprise to see Meenakshi Menon at the Radio Club yesterday afternoon, abseiling. The occasion: The launch of Social Access, and the message, “bee the change”.

 

Lynn de Souza

Meenakshi Menon

Social Access is an outcome of shared passion of two power media women: Lynn de Souza and Meenakshi Menon. The organization is being launched with the key objective “to use strategic communication and creative ideas” to re-orient society towards social sector by building channels among the four key players: NGOs, corporates, government bodies and society.

 

The Social Access logo is bulb-shaped , created with the thought that “illumination is required to dispel darkness”. The organisation, say its founders, is inspired by the bee, and it symbolizes team work, acitivity, creativity and buzz. “Bee the change” is the Social Access tagline.

 

States Ms Menon, “Our anthem is: Let’s do things because they must be done, and because we can do them.” It is based on a message from Lt Cdr Abhilash Tomy, the first Indian to circumvent the ocean solo, nonstop.

 

She adds, “India has 4 percent of the world’s billionaires; however, when it comes to the giving index it stands 91st in an index of 153 nations. The total value of donations given in our country in 11-12 fiscal is Rs 5000 crore, which is a smaller amount than the brand value of a single brand, Parle G.”

 

‘Attitude overcomes limitations’
The launch of Social Access was different, interesting and succeeded in driving home the message it set out to send. It was initiated with a few interesting activities: abseiling (under Sarah Wilson’s guidance), sailing with the kids, and cycling. 

It was not only the two stakeholders in the organisation who interacted with the audience, but also LT Cdr Abhilash Tomy (the first Indian to circumnavigate the oceans solo, nonstop and assisted), Mark Inglis (the only double amputee in the world to scale Mount Everest & a Para Olympic silver medallist in cycling), Sarah Wilson (cancer and avalanche survivor engaged in teaching young women how to overcome fears through a riveting abseiling exercise.)

 

Talking about his amputation and further victories in cycling and mountaineering Inglis stated, ‘To be the change one needs to remove limitations, and to overcome limitations you need to be a change maker, and that is what Social Access sets out to do.” He further stated, “Innovation, passion and commitment are equally important to achieve what you set out to achieve but the key thing is the attitude – attitude overcomes limitations.”

 

An audio-visual took the audience through Tomy’s sailing experience. His beautiful lines about his adventure, sum up the journey of life in a way, “Sun shone and showed the path. Winds tested us, loved us, and egged us on. Waves sometimes angry and playful, and sometimes calming. We made lots of friends in the way. Every day added a new meaning to life.” His thoughts and ideas have been an inspiration for Social Access as it took shape.

 

Interestingly, the entire event was put together without too much expense. Radio Mirchi was the key partner – they organised a contest on the radio for the event, helped with the venue and broadcast the event live. Other media major involved was National Geographic. Catalyst was the event partner.

 

The organisation seeks to be the connect between the NGOs and organisations that can help them. Also, on the cards are communication solutions. As Ms de Souza says, “The intent is to provide the best solution – creative or otherwise, to the NGOs, depending upon their requirement.”

 

Social Access has tied up with iVolunteer for easy facilitation of volunteers.

 

The organization believes that it is about time Indians learnt to care and share more. Though impressed by the concept, one can’t help but wonder if India is ready for this kind of an initiative. States Lynn de Souza, “Of course it is ready. Many things are happening now…. Social media has stepped up awareness, charity and causes have found a voice. Corporations have realized that brand value goes up if you contribute to social causes. Society is more conscious now – and so are the government and local bodies. Media too is contributing. Another key thing is that awareness among youth is increasing, and they are coming forward.”

 

The use of social media for raising awareness and mobilising people is one of the key areas Social Access intends focusing on. States Ms Menon, “Social media is giving voice to the dumb. We can use the power of media to help ideas travel across cultures, consumers, corporates, government bodies and more.”

 

But will it really help in mobilizing people to get involved? Ms Menon and Ms de Souza believe that one cannot undermine the power of social media when it comes to mobilizing support for social causes. States Ms de Souza, “Social media will no doubt play a very important role in mobilising people. While social media per say has grown in the range of 90 percent, its usage for non-commercial purposes has increased close 190 percent.”

 

The plan is not to make it a close-fisted organisation with a handful of employees. Anyone passionate about social causes can be involved . States Ms Menon, “It will be an open architecture society where anyone can contribute. We are building a community and providing a platform. Anybody can become a part of it.”

 

Social Access has a two-pronged role – to get the corporates and other able organizations to support NGOs, and to get people to contribute in a myriad different ways. Concludes Ms de Souza, “We are focused on share of heart and mind, we are not looking at share of wallet. Our basic philosophy is that of equality. Everything must lead to an equitable society.”

 

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