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Economic Justice

David Lammy introduces Creative Solutions for Tough Times

On Tuesday 9 July, the City Bridge Trust, in partnership with the Barrow Cadbury Trust, the new economics foundation (nef) and Lankelly Chase Foundation hosted the Community Resilience Event, Creative Solutions for Tough Times. A follow-up event to the Birmingham workshop hosted by the Barrow Cadbury Trust in November 2012, it explored local solutions to problems posed by today’s harsh economic landscape, one characterised by cutting back on resources and heighted inequality. Delivering the keynote speech, the Rt Hon. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, spoke of the importance of local community, stressing that without community there can be no enterprise.


Presenting research that nef carried out in Birmingham and Haringey, nef’s Head of Policy, Anna Coote, highlighted the impact of the new austerity on communities and how people have responded to this. Despite community members trying hard to fill the gaps that emerged from welfare reform and widening inequalities, she found a sense of hope and possibility within these communities, pointing out that local people hold a unique wisdom that can alleviate the problems they face.


Paul Slatter, Director of the Birmingham-based Chamberlain Forum proposed that what the cuts mean for local government is not clear, saying that “we are currently at the sharp end of finding out what local government is going to be”. In discussing how local communities and the voluntary sector in Birmingham are supporting each other, he emphasised the value of embracing diversity within community networks, describing uniformity as “the enemy of resilience”.


The day’s workshops provided an introduction to a range of community approaches that have been employed by communities in Haringey and Birmingham. The workshops stretched across five areas:


Time Banking: Assets to Action
Rosie Farrer and Hilary Harvey of Spice, a social enterprise that mobilises communities as agents of change through time credits, delivered a session on the benefits of time banking and how to design a time credit scheme.


Neighbourhood Planning
Paul Slatter and Hannah Worth, directors of the Chamberlain Forum, explored to role of neighbourhood planning in building community resilience.


Commissioning for Social Justice
One of two sessions stemming from nef’s “The New Austerity” project, Julia Slay looked at local authority commissioning and how it can promote social justice as opposed to simply cutting back on services.


Peer Research: Methods and Practise
The second session to draw on “The New Austerity”, Joe Penny, researcher at nef presented how local citizens were involved as peer researchers over the course of the project as well as the benefits of peer research.


Relationships and Resilience
Based on the Centre for Local Economic Strategies’ (CLES) research “Producing local economies: creating resilient places”, report co-author Neil McInroy, Chief Executive of CLES, discussed how to build relationships and infrastructure across sectors to ensure that communities are better able to thrive.
The workshops provided an introduction to a range of tried and tested means of guiding community resilience for those with a desire to respond to austerity measures in a positive way. Local people and groups explored how their own communities could benefit from the research and community resilience methods highlighted over the course of the day, and put forward their own ideas about how resilience in local communities could be strengthened. You can see pictures from the event below.