The American election result came through in the middle of a national community organisation conference that I recently attended. It was met by a mixture of depression and determination to work even harder to build communities. We came together from across the UK to share what we are doing and learn how we can do even better.
For me as a new staff member at the Katherine Low Settlement, the Locality Conference in York was a wonderful opportunity to find out what community organisations around the country are doing. Katherine Low is one of many ’settlement’ organisations started in Victorians times and still going strong and out in force at the conference, and there are a huge variety of other organisations in community halls, pubs, housing cooperatives, health hubs and even swimming pools and disused tunnels. Bramley Baths in Leeds, the Victoria Tunnel in Newcastle, the Meltham Carlile Community Hub, and the Goodwin Trust in Hull were some of the inspiring organisations showing what the community can acheive when it gets together.
The main message of the conference was about the need to protect all types of community buildings and other assets from closing down and lying disused or developed. Talking to other organisations struggling to keep up the rent on premises or to buy a building at the heart of their community, I realised how fortunate Katherine Low Settlement is to have our wonderful building in the heart of Battersea.
Locality has launched a call for a £1 billion fund to meet the need to buy community assets before it is too late, and this ambitious plan shows the amount that are under threat. Read their ‘Places and Spaces: the future of community asset ownership’ report.
As the Brexit and American election results have shown, people feel that ‘the system’ is failing them and they want something better, and that it can be common to blame people within our communities for causing the problems our families face. Now more than ever we need to work together in Battersea, to keep building a stronger communities, looking out for each other – and it inspiring that there are plenty of places just getting on with doing just this all over the country.
Fleur Anderson 020 7223 2845
Head of Community Services firstname.lastname@example.org