“I’ve seen what can happen when communities have control”: Annoushka Deighton joins We’re Right Here

We’re Right Here, the campaign for community power, welcomes Annoushka Deighton as its newest community leader.

Annoushka was at the forefront of a year-long campaign to put Stretford Public Hall into community ownership. The council planned to sell the Grade II listed building to private developers, but local people had other ideas. Determined to keep it out of private hands, Annoushka joined forces with her community and convinced the council to sell the hall to them instead – for £10.

Now a Community Benefit Society backed by over 800 local people and organisations, the much-loved venue offers a programme of services and activities ranging from social and health support to outreach events, yoga, ESOL and children’s theatre.

Following the success of the project, Annoushka began working at the Architectural Heritage Fund to help similar ventures get off the ground. And she’s recently taken over the lease for a former train station where she – a trained acupuncturist – and other therapists will offer no and low cost services.

Annoushka will play a pivotal role in building the case for a Community Power Act – a transformative piece of legislation to give communities new rights over spaces, services, and spending.

She said:

“I am very excited to be a part of the We’re Right Here team, I’ve seen what can happen when communities have control over their assets and a real say in shaping local services.

“When my friends and I saved Stretford Public Hall from being sold off we had nothing but determination to improve our local area. We learnt along the way, supported by so many people locally willing to give up their time and skills. The hall brought the community together. It now provides space for lots of fun activities as well as some much-needed frontline services.

“People all over the country want to do similar where they live. They have the skills, passion and ability and most importantly a real understanding of what is needed and wanted in their communities. Time and time again I have seen groups filled with energy coming up against barriers that make it much harder and often impossible to do what we did. It’s such a waste of a brilliant resource.

“That’s why I am so supportive of this campaign – it offers a way of harnessing community power to unlock long-term transformative effects.”

Annoushka joins seven other community leaders who spearhead the We’re Right Here campaign from towns and cities across England.

Campaign director Will Brett said:

“We’re delighted to welcome Annoushka Deighton to the team. The community buy-out of Stretford Public Hall has had huge benefits for the whole area – proof that when local people take control, amazing things can happen. Now she’s bringing that same energy to the national campaign for community power. We can’t wait to see what will happen next.”

Notes to Editors:

  • We’re Right Here is a national campaign for a Community Power Act that would shift power out of Westminster and into communities.
  • The campaign is driven by eight community leaders based in: Manchester, Bolton, Sheffield, Hartlepool, Shropshire, Coalville, Birmingham and Leeds.
  • The campaign is supported by nine national organisations: Power to Change, New Local, Locality, the Young Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Local Trust, People’s Health Trust, Friends Provident Foundation and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.