They say with all new jobs that the first 100 days are the most important, when the biggest impact is made and a clear direction of travel is laid down. Having started this new role on April 1st as lockdown hit, I think I was given a bit of a challenge, but this is a useful starting point for me to reflect back on my journey so far and what might have been achieved.
In some way’s lockdown has been a great opportunity. Zoom and all the other conferencing platforms, (other brands are available!) have enabled meetings to still be held and relationships to be built, and I’ve been really lucky to have made some strong initial contacts.
Power to Change and the national Community Led Homes partnership have developed a strong national network of community-led housing hubs, and weekly meetings have been critical for me to build links with this growing movement nationwide. Support has been so open from other organisations. It really does feel like the Liverpool City Region Hub has joined a strong national family, with a passion to support local people to take more control of their homes and their neighbourhoods.
I’ve been most impressed by the diversity in approaches to delivering community-led homes that are out there, whether that be through establishing housing co-operatives and community land trusts, through to the exciting opportunities co-housing affords alongside self-build options. The message is clear – one size does not fit all – and it’s important that community groups are supported to explore the right solution for them when they are thinking about initiating a community-led housing project. This open approach will certainly form the backbone to the Hub and the advice it offers in the region.
I’ve made some great links in the Liverpool City Region too, with a range of potential partners who could have an important role to play in the Hub as it develops. Initial meetings with the combined authority and local authorities have been really positive about the role community-led schemes can play in housing strategies for the region. Local Housing Associations have also listened positively to the potential for collaboration and connections with the voluntary sector, and grass roots groups, interested in community-led housing have started some positive local conversations.
There is a real interest in both the innovation community-led housing projects can take around environmental sustainability and carbon neutral living, as well as the support that projects offer to local people by bringing people together. Community-led housing schemes are always about more than just bricks and mortar; they are about creating opportunities to build caring, inclusive and supportive communities. The one thing Covid 19 has taught us all is that communities have a more important role to play in the re-building and re-modelling of our economy. Community-led housing needs to be part of the solution moving forward, and we look forward to playing our role in these conversations.
The Hub has also started to offer direct support to a number of projects, which is great! We don’t want to just be a talking shop. We need to be about taking action, which we have started to do. New Ferry Community Land Trust has the opportunity to deliver its first project in the heart of New Ferry through a partnership with the supportive and forward-thinking Wirral Council. We are really pleased to be working with this group and to be offering strategic support at the start of the project.
A number of other conversations have also started, including with a group of people living in houseboats who are interested in creating a co-operative mooring for those who prefer to live on the water. One thing Liverpool isn’t short of is water…..isn’t that why we are all here!. This co-operative approach makes real sense to me, so watch this space as this project takes shape.
So, all in all, it’s been an interesting 100 days or so. Great energy and enthusiasm have been created and the Hub is starting to build its profile. It’s clear the interest in, and appetite for, community-led homes is alive and well in the Liverpool City Region. Here’s hoping that through collaboration and partnership we can ensure more community-led homes become reality in the near future.
If you feel the need to be inspired Bristol University Press have just published ‘Creating Community-led and Self-build homes’ by Martin Field. A great overview of this growing movement and what can be achieved.
The web address for the publication is:
https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/creating-community-led-and-self-build-homes 170pgs £9.99. (£7.99 pre-order)
Till next month, and do get in touch if you want to start a conversation.