Communities in Control was a week of action, held during the first week of July. Led by GMCVO in partnership with GM VCSE Leadership Group, the week showcased some of the ways in which VCSE organisations are enabling people and communities to take control of power and assets and help create an economy that is more inclusive of those that have been increasingly left behind.

The week began with a panel discussion arranged by GMCVO asking ‘Community Ownership – a key ingredient in a thriving economy?’. Chaired by Stuart MacDonald (Centre for local Economic Strategies), Anwar Ali (Upturn Enterprises), Christine Berry (Researcher and Writer) and Graham Whitham (GM Poverty Action) came together for a discussion around community ownership as a force for economic inclusion.

The gardens at Manchester Urban Diggers

You can view a recording of the session here

Over the rest of the week a number of events took place across Greater Manchester that demonstrated how communities can take more control of local assets to benefit many, including those who are disadvantaged.

Manchester Urban Diggers (MUD)  told the story of how the group started, the journey they have taken to get to where they are now along with the successes and challenges of the project. Afterwards, they provided a delicious lunch and tour of the community garden at Platt Fields Park.

Firs Community Benefit Society held a resident engagement event to discuss plans for the development of a new community building. As as result of their session the group gained 6 new members to their Community Benefit Society.

Yes Manchester CIC hosted  ‘Inclusive Employment – Good for Business, Good for Communities’, an event attended by representatives across sectors. They had a great range of speakers, including one of their young employees.

An attendee practices upcycling techniques at Stitched Up

Stitched Up provided an insight into their Community Benefit Society. They shared case studies of their community led projects and talked about how they reduce waste and upcycle clothing. Attendees were given a crash course in patching up clothing and had a go themselves.

Mustard Tree held a tour of their Ancoats Hub including seeing the café and their community shop in which furniture and white goods are repaired and recycled for the community.

An event led by GM Community-Led Housing, ‘Community Ownership in Action’ was aptly held at Stretford Public Hall, a building owned and run by a Community Benefit Society with over 800 members. This was valuable networking session that brought together likeminded people and gave them an opportunity to share their work.

Recycled furniture for sale at Mustard Tree

View a short video created from the event, sharing attendee views on the benefits of community ownership

The week of action not only highlighted some of the fantastic work happening across Greater Manchester, it also helped VCSE sector organisations recognise how their work contributes to a more inclusive economy and has enabled them to think about what more they can do to help build a fairer economic model.

A huge thank you to Social Enterprise, SAZ media who took the photos from these events and recorded/produced the video from the Community-Led Housing event at Stretford Public Hall.