Community groups urged to join forces for success

PEOPLE across Bristol are coming together to build a new movement to protect community buildings.  

The Bristol Commons initiative comes from Coexist – the group that launched Hamilton House and turned it into a thriving community hub.  

It is looking at how to prepare for a future in a landscape that is much changed since Coexist’s eviction from the Stokes Croft property in December 2018. 

Community organisations have been hit by the pandemic,  rising fuel prices,  the cost of Coexist helped establish the mutual aid network during the pandemic, and has donated resources, funding and provided advice and mentoring to struggling community projects.

Danny Balla, co-director of Coexist, said: “We’ve had hundreds of conversations with community organisations and community leaders over the last 18 months.  One thing is clear – everyone is struggling, the system is broken and we need to regroup and support each other.  Whether it is funding cuts and closures, or the lack of capacity in our community hubs, to a growing sense of impending doom – people and organisations are at their limit.

“The good news is that there is another way.  There are some amazing stories from around the UK and Europe of how we can do things differently – even in the current climate.  The Community Power Act, Community Wealth Building such as ‘The Preston Model’, organisations like Heeley Development Trust in Sheffield that have been growing community assets for almost 20 years – there are lots of things we could be doing here in Bristol. 

“If we bring these ideas together, we have a chance of creating something really special: A dynamic, values-based community coalition that can step in where the council has gone Missing In Action.  We need to build a new model.  We need to rebuild the commons!”

The Bristol Commons is a commitment to working together – individuals and organisations – to share resources, plan strategically using collaborative approaches rather than being in competition, and uniting  to safeguard community assets.

It was being launched at an event at The Trinity Centre on March 28.