Leading thinkers on town centres and communities join High Streets Task Force Board

Published 28 July 2020
Last updated 28 July 2020

Vidhya Alakeson, CEO of Power to Change, and Ibrahim Ibrahim, Managing Director of Portland Design, have been appointed to the Board and join nine other Members, led by Task Force Chair, Mark Robinson, Co-Founder of developers Ellandi

Both appointments bring further expertise and add to the broad range of perspectives represented by the High Streets Task Force Board, which oversees the Task Force’s work and addresses issues of national importance to town and city centres.

Vidhya Alakeson is the founding Chief Executive of Power to Change, an independent trust established in 2015 to support the growth of community businesses across England as a means to creating more prosperous and cohesive communities. In this role, Vidhya has led investment of over £60 million, supporting 1,000 community businesses through targeted grants and programmes.

Vidhya has previously worked in a number of think tanks and for US and UK governments. Before founding Power to Change, she was Deputy Chief Executive at the Resolution Foundation, a leading public policy think tank working on issues that affect low and middle income families.

Ibrahim Ibrahim is the Managing Director of Portland Design, a leading strategic branding and retail design business focused on future readiness. He has over 30 years’ experience including leading projects in retail design, commercial masterplanning, mixed use developments and urban regeneration.

Central to Ibrahim’s approach and ethos is designing solutions that are sustainable and help to future-proof places. His understanding of consumers’ relationships with brands, and their engagement with branded physical and digital environments, lies at the heart of his work. 

Speaking on joining the Task Force Board, Vidhya Alakeson, said:

“The High Streets Task Force is an important alliance that is driving forward much needed change for our high streets and urban centres. It’s a privilege to join its board, particularly at this time when the decline of the high street is entering a new, accelerated phase as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Empowering communities through increased social trading and ownership is integral to building a new, more resilient high street of the future and I’m delighted to bring that perspective.”

Ibrahim Ibrahim, said:

“I am delighted and privileged to be joining the High Streets Task Force Board, which is an important body to drive new ideas in re-thinking and re-purposing our high streets and urban centres as a response to the rapidly changing retail landscape.

Creating smart, connected places with built in flexibility to respond to changing expectations of our communities will ensure ‘Future Readiness’ and an authentic spirit of place. I am looking forward to the opportunity of working closely with the Task Force board on this exciting challenge”

Mark Robinson, High Streets Task Force Chair, said:

In Vidhya and Ibrahim, I’m delighted that the High Streets Task Force welcomes two individuals that are dedicated to sustainable, inclusive and successful town centres. With their respective organisations they have led inspirational change and are at the vanguard of a progressive vision for high streets; one that is representative of local communities and ready to adapt to emerging ways of living. COVID-19 has presented major challenges to the future of high streets, but it is also a chance to reimagine them. Vidhya and Ibrahim will be part of that work on the Task Force Board.

The High Streets Task Force has supported place leaders to react to the impact of COVID-19 and has just completed a series of six support webinars for local authorities and leaders, providing advice on high street transformation to over 1,000 place managers.

Later this year the Task Force will begin delivering direct help to locations around England with on-the-ground expertise and support, building on the online resources and advice it has published since the beginning of the lockdown period.


View the full High Streets Task Force Board