Those seeking live examples of the kind of role local, grassroots social enterprise action might take in the Big Society might be interested in the following — just in from one of the folks involved in the project (thank you, Richard):
An exciting new project to restore one of the city’s most dilapidated and under used sports facilities would appear to be a perfect solution to a recent Birmingham Mail article depicting some of the city’s open spaces as “war zones.”
The Kingsbridge Project is aiming to rejuvenate the run down facilities of Holders Lane Sports Centre and Playing Fields to establish a vibrant and exciting new community managed Social Enterprise that provides sporting and social facilities in South Birmingham. Kingsbridge will provide sport and leisure activities for a wide variety of local user groups in addition to providing training, work experience and employment opportunities. Local residents are excited at the prospect of transforming the site from an area of crime and graffiti to an upbeat social and sporting venue.
In the Birmingham Mail article, Councillor Mullaney said that he was shocked at the state of many of the city’s open spaces and has ordered park rangers to adopt minimum standards as regards graffiti and vandalism. One of the directors of the Kingsbridge project is community worker Roger Lynch. Roger has led community volunteer teams for several years in the Balsall Heath area in tidying up run-down areas and painting out graffiti in local open spaces such as Nelson Mandela Park. Roger recently wrote to Councillor Mullaney to express his support and to suggest that Kingsbridge might be just the kind of project the area needs.
While removing graffiti is a strong short term benefit, in a recent interview with BBC West Midlands Roger highlighted that the long term solution is to put ownership of Public Spaces and Facilities like Holders Lane back into the hands of local communities.