Tower Blocks UK Report
On Saturday 27 November 2018 two of us who work as volunteers with Tower Blocks UK travelled to Manchester to present our case for funding from The Edge Fund.
As we walked along the canal to the venue we could see how Manchester has been developed and “gentrified’ in similar ways to London but we were struck by how much quieter than London it all seemed.
The Bridge 5 Mill community venue was very comfortable and well-appointed and the vegan lunch was delicious. We valued the chance to talk with representatives of the other fifteen groups who were applying, some other funded groups, members and staff who are part of the “Edge Fund community”.
The applicants encompassed some which were quite locally or specifically focussed and others which were tackling wider strategic or policy issues. For example; Rising Up who are seeking to overhaul consumerism, a group for parents of young men imprisoned because of Joint Enterprise Laws, groups seeking justice for asylum seekers and a food growers land use network - to name a few!
They were all so important and worthwhile it was a privilege to be amongst all the participants who were energetically committed to their causes. It was empowering to be amongst those challenging poverty, climate change and discrimination and fighting for better lives in the UK and Ireland.
Our organisation has been operating for about a year prompted by the Grenfell Tower fire. We aim to highlight the life and death risks in some Tower Blocks and provide advice and support to Tower Blocks tenants. In our two minutes presentation Liz Lowe outlined how Tower Blocks UK is building on previous campaigning from the 1980s and Danielle Gregory described how they had highlighted risks on her Peckham estate.
All the groups were guaranteed £1500 and had the opportunity to receive a further £1500 by participating in the voting system with 30 chickpeas each group to share amongst the organisations. We were very pleased and surprised that we were in the top five to receive the extra grant. We are also proud to receive money from such an innovative and creative fund which works so hard to support grass roots projects.
The £3,000 we were awarded will enable us to continue to run our website, produce and share accurate public information, offer advice, support and build the momentum to ensure that no-one continues to live at risk in a Tower Block.
Edge Fund Report from Common House
Firstly, it was very good to get out of London, and find out what radical folks were up to in other parts of the UK. London can sometimes feel like a hermetically sealed bubble where you forget that other things are going on. So I had a nice train ride up with my comrade, and enjoyed the greenery out of the train window.
I was blown away by the work of other groups during the people's short presentations. People were struggling against fracking and land injustices, fighting the brutal criminal justice systems, defending their communities, running social centres and many other impressive and inspiring things. I was excited about activism again, and had to resist that urge to get involved with more groups and tell myself to focus on what I was doing!
Lunch was delicious and plentiful, and was one of the only networking events I've been to where I haven't just stood around awkwardly wondering what to say to people. It was a friendly crowd, and I felt like I wanted to speak with everyone, find out what people were doing and share ideas. I was really happy to connect with a comrade from a feminist group that my group had worked with, but who I had never met. Functioning day to day in a capitalist society, in one of the most capitalist cities on the planet, I forget what a breath of fresh air it is to speak plainly with people and talk about what's really been on my mind. I felt optimistic, as if things could be different.
I also appreciated the efforts to be democratic, and encourage people to take ownership of the work of the Edge Fund through the voting system. I did not feel like merely a recipient of a grant but that I was helping to contribute to an organisation that provides essential infrastructure for the left. I was gratified with the results of the vote and felt that as a group we had made the right choices.
On the whole, a grand day out!
The Common House - a collectively managed space for radical groups, projects and community events
Edge Fund members have finished the lengthy but satisfying process of scoring and reviewing applications. We are pleased to announce that our shortlist for Round 9 has been finalised.
The following groups will be considered for either £1500 or £3,000 at our final funding day in Manchester on Saturday 27th October:
- Not Guilty By Association, Disabled People Against Cuts, Community Action on Prison Expansion, Open Lavs, London Coalition Against Poverty, Learning Disability Group of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, Land Justice Network, Disabled People Against Cuts Glasgow, The Common House, SOAS Detainee Support, Rising Up, Tower Blocks UK, Sandwell Youth in Action, Unity Sisters and Belfast Solidarity Centre/Just Books.
The following groups will automatically received the grant they asked for based on their position on the shortlist and as they asked for £1500 or less:
- Fforwm yr Eliffant Binc, Liverpool Social Centre Collective, Positively UK, Kushti Bok
The following groups will receive a small grant between £1000 to £500 based on their position in the short list.
- Friends of Detainees, Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, African Rainbow Family, Peabody Family Voice (PFV), Ubuntu Women Shelter, Sister Supporter, The Campaign to Protect Pont Valley, LGBTIQ Outside, T.O.R.C.H. (Taking On Rape culture, Consent, and sexual Health) Collective, Berkshire Anti Fascists, Fuel Poverty Action, Leeds Anti-Fascist Network, Frack Free Upton, JENGbA Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association and Scottish Farm Land Trust.
We would like to thank all of our members and previously funded groups for their hard work in scoring applications!
The next step in our grant giving process is our Funding Day in Manchester on Saturday 27th October, in the Bridge 5 Mill, 22A Beswick St, Manchester M4 7HR, where the top 15 applicants and our members will come together to vote on which groups will get the larger grants. Check out our report on Round 8’s funding day, to see what’s involved.
We are now open applications, deadline is midnight Sunday 24th June. Please make sure to read over the funding criteria before making an application.
If you’re unsure about whether you fit the guidelines you might want to take a look at our previous grants. You’re also welcome to contact us by email [email protected] or call 0776 712 6915 or 0300 123 1965
Edge Fund members have finished the lengthy but satisfying process of scoring and reviewing applications. We are pleased to announce that our shortlist for Round 8 has been finalised.
The following groups will be considered for either £1500 or £3,000 at our final funding day in London on Saturday 17th February:
- Friends of Detainees, Disabled People Against Cuts Glasgow, Living Rent Edinburgh, Galway Feminist Collective, Black Triangle Campaign, Smash IPP, Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Cuts, We Will Rise, Glasgow Autonomous Space, Unity Sisters, Hand2Mouth, African Rainbow Family, Disabled Survivors Unite, Leeds Unity Centre, Ubele Initiative.
Many thanks to Ama from Black Lives Matter UK for this blog about our last funding day. You can read about the groups that were funded, and how much they were awarded here.