For all its small size and general impoverishment the libertarian socialist movement actually runs a surprisingly large amount of real estate around Britain, all on non-hierarchical lines, by and for the people of the cities and towns we’re in. Housing co-ops, bookshops, bike collectives, archives, distros, printers and the like are all part of the collective mix. Below, Freedom News briefly rounds up some goings-on at 15 radical social centres and spaces over the last few months.
- The 1in12 Club, Bradford BD1 2LY: The club, which is Britain’s oldest active social centre (The Freedom building is longer-running but has only inconsistently been a community space) is in the process of planning a blowout 35th birthday bash for 2018 as it looks to bring more people in for future events/plans.
- Cowley Club, Brighton BN1 4JA: The collective has had a bit of a run of bad luck recently, and is currently fundraising to pay for both a major rates bill and a roof rebuild, which can be done by either donating or through investing with loanstock. It is, however, still rocking the events list and remains a key hub for groups in the left-leaning city.
- Kebele, Bristol BS5 6JY, is back in action after a break in August and is now over 21 years old! It has been hosting meetings galore over the last few months, though it could do with more cooks for the vegan cafe.
- Ace, Edinburgh EH7 5HA: As ever, the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh is involved at the heart of progressive radicalism in the city, recently holding a solid open day to encourage new volunteers as it continues its work supporting a radical library space and multitudes of events.
- Wharf Chambers (Middle Floor), Leeds LS2 7EQ: Part volunteer-run club and part-worker co-op, Wharf Chambers recently opened the Middle Floor, a bookable space for daytime and early evening talks, workshops, meetings, exercise classes, film screenings and more.
- News From Nowhere, Liverpool L1 4HY: The workers’ co-op worked closely with other groups organising Liverpool’s first ever Anarchist Bookfair in April, as well as hosting Food not Bombs — and English conversation classes are due soon!
- London Action Resource Centre, London E1 1ES: Has recently sorted out a new kitchen and new paint work.
- Decentre, London E1 7QX: The second-floor space which the Freedom building group maintain for public use and events is currently in hiatus, but plans are to revive it in the coming weeks. Alongside last year’s significant rebuild with comfy chairs, tables, rugs and small bar there is now a computer with internet and printer, free to use. Inquire with the ground floor bookshop about evening bookings.
- Common House, London E2 9QG: Has successfully completed an epic appeal for funding after its largest income stream was unexpectedly lost, and is now planning for the longer term. The happy upside of their emergency activities is that the big room’s profile got a substantial boost.
- Mayday rooms, London EC4Y 1DH: Is looking busier than ever at the heart of capital power, and in its archiving role is currently hosting the Lucas Plan collection. This month the collective has started a monthly discussion day on the problems of radical archiving following a much-needed summer break.
- DIY Space For London, London SE15 1TF: The venue space turned two recently and by all accounts everyone had a blast at the celebration party. Their AGM discussed an awful lot of the nitty gritty about finance, future plans and the like, reporting a whopping 136% increase in turnover.
- Partisan, Manchester M4 4FY: Having successfully found a venue, done it all up to look lovely, and opened to a wide array of progressive causes, Partisan is now looking to fundraise for the next stage of becoming a permanent fixture in the city for radical groups. The collective are aiming to gain a full licence, make the space more accessible, sort out a sound system for the space and of course improve soundproofing.
- Star and Shadow, Newcastle NE2 1BB: Having had to move out of their old premises, the team has decided to go the whole hog and just build an entirely new cinema and social space! Build work is coming along nicely and the ambitious project is currently looking for volunteers.
- Sumac Centre, Nottingham NG7 6HX: This year has seen people putting loads of time and energy into a remodelling-rework of the bar area, and for September the taking in of a bountiful crop from their community garden.
- Blackcurrent Centre, Northampton NN1 4JQ: Has rejoined the list of Social Centres after a hiatus. It is operating “more like just a housing co-op” at the moment, but might change this to become more open at some point.
Got missed out? want to add some more detail? Drop us a line via editor at freedompress.org.uk!
Many of the above centres are members of the Radical Social Centres Network. Plans are afoot for a possible gathering at some point, stay tuned…