Our new blog series is a space to celebrate what you see as the ideas, processes and projects that are pushing boundaries to empower people and communities to shape their places.
We are particularly interested in celebrating “inspired” approaches, whether complex or very simple, to enabling civic leadership and cross-sector collaboration in shaping buildings, open spaces, homes or neighbourhoods. Melissa Lacide has written a piece on a project that has inspired her.
Elmbridge Community Eco Hub is a volunteer-led Community Interest Company, which was in the process of growing and gaining momentum before the nation went into lockdown in March 2020. The vision behind the CIC is to have space where local people can come together and access a range of assets – to not just better shape where they live and work but to also better shape the world we live in.
Based in Surrey, where pockets of deprivation continue to exist, the initiatives are aimed at addressing many of the economic, social and environmental challenges that individuals and our communities face. The hub’s slogan of “let’s build something together” is the focus, wherein practice a range of initiatives will be ‘under one roof’. The sustainability agenda includes:
- Economical – addressing food insecurity and affordability to buy products needed for everyday living.
- Baby Bank – partnerships with local charities to provide families with free access to things they need (some are available to anyone and other items are available via referrals from professionals in charities or social care).
- Community Fridge – open to all where people can donate and receive free and fresh food every day.
- Library of Things – for people to borrow useful items affordably rather than buy new ones, maintain them, or send them to landfill.
- Social – supporting people to access resources, meet others, gain knowledge, network and interact.
- Sharing – learn new skills or share skills to teach someone.
- Environmental – encouraging up-cycling, recycling and repairing, instead of sending items to landfill and creating waste.
- Community recycling points – working with Terracycle to collect small items that are hard to recycle and raise money for good causes.
- Community Tree planting – to grow firs and sell/rent living Christmas trees in pots.
- Library of Things – as above.
- Repair cafe – Mending of electrical items.
- Store for food and household supplies – giving the option to buy organic, manage quantities needed, and use own packaging to help reduce waste.
The hard work, visibility and the positive relationships being built by the volunteers to create this community asset puts them in a fantastic position to be inclusive to all and continue supporting local residents to access resources, now and in the future.
If there’s one thing the pandemic, lockdown and social distancing has taught us is that connection with our possessions, places, communities and other people are more valued than ever. Despite this, the reality of inequality still exists with stigma and barriers being highlighted all the more because of CV-19. We need more hubs like this one to support each other going forward and help us to better understand our places and needs in communities.
It’ll be great to see this CIC push boundaries further. We all have the power to change the way we build our communities and create social value to improve the wellbeing of people and places.
Find out more about the hub via https://elmbridgeecohub.wordpress.com/. Follow Elmbridge Eco Hub on Twitter and Facebook.