We’re Right Here at Anthropy & Locality

This month our community leaders travelled to Anthropy – the ‘Davos of the South West’ and to the Locality convention in the ‘San Francisco of the South West’, Bristol. They came away with plenty of inspiration and community power allies. Here’s more:

Charlotte Hollins at Anthropy

I recently attended Anthropy at the Eden Project. A conference bringing together leaders and change makers across all sectors including politics, education, councils, corporates, service providers, celebrities and community organisations. It was an inspirational few days and a wonderful opportunity to share the We’re Right Here campaign with leaders from across the sectors.

At a previous Anthropy event, I had managed to get the support of Mary Portas and Mariella Frostrup, so we had high hopes for the event this year.

Our panel discussion did not disappoint – giving a Cornish take on community power. We were joined by Simon Ryan from The Peninsula Trust in Cornwall who was successful in buying 11 coastal houses from the council for £1, with a view to using them for affordable local housing.

We also heard from Phil Mason, Strategic Director for Sustainable Growth and Development at Cornwall who was instrumental in helping Simon’s work go forward, and who shared many examples of working in partnership with the local community to ensure Cornwall remains vibrant for those who live and work in the county.

Next, we had Amanda Pennington who led a campaign for her local Wadebridge leisure centre to come into community hands, leading to job creation and increased use of the centre.

Lastly, I shared my story from Fordhall Farm. A story of how our family home and the land which we had nurtured for hundreds of years was in danger of being stripped away from us by a distant landlord who wanted to capitalise on his asset. We were successful in saving the farm from industrial development by raising £800,000 through community shares. This means that 8,000 people around the world now collectively own the farm we are lucky enough to continue stewarding on their behalf. A farm which now cares for people, as well as generating livelihoods and nourishing our environment.

Our stories all had a very common thread: partnerships were key to their success. If we had worked in isolation none of us would have been successful. There was another common thread: the political system which exists around us can hinder progress, generate barriers and discourage creative approaches.

We all wanted our stories to be common, not one-off pieces of magic. We all knew, including the council, that for more of this to happen, we need to change the systems which surround us. We need to empower our councils and our communities to work together. We need to empower our communities to step up and get involved, and we need a system which can be dynamic and agile to facilitate this. We need to create a system which truly allows a ‘place-based’ approach to managing our assets, our services and our communities.

The Community Power Act shone through to the packed room as a clear answer. An act which will remove the shackles that central government passes down into our communities, and an act which empowers our communities to make the right decisions and develop the right partnerships.

We left Anthropy with many pledges to the We’re Right Here campaign, we left with offers of help and support, and we left with a re-affirmed belief that this Act is needed and that it will happen.

To do that, we need to continue to build the community that supports it.

So, please do share our campaign with colleagues, leaders and organisations you know who may be interested. We need your voices to help us show the politicians this is needed and wanted by communities everywhere.

Claude Hendrickson at the Locality convention

It was great to be with the We’re Right Here team at the Locality Convention at my home town of Bristol, speaking to amazing people from across the country about their stories of community power, and introducing our proposal for a Community Power Act. We’re Right Here was part of the main Locality stand, and lots of people signed up to hear more about our campaign, and to chat about how the Community Power Act would help their work locally. 

The highlight of the day was the launch of The Locality Manifesto, which called for a “community power revolution” and had the Act as its number one policy recommendation. As Marc Stears from the UCL Policy Lab said up on the main stage, “the country is ready for the power of community”. Now we need our politicians to deliver the change to make this a reality. 

The awards ceremony was fantastic, with the chance to see and hear from some of the great groups Locality supports. Every project on the night was a winner.

I escaped from my busy schedule to the “green room” for a few minutes, to share my reflections on the convention and what it meant for our campaign. Why not do the same by sharing your thoughts on the new Locality manifesto on Twitter, tagging @right_hereUK