“There are so many small community gems in Southampton that we should be proud of.”
Those are the words of someone at the Southampton Collective’s first ‘Annual Do’ at Mettricks, in Portswood, on Monday evening.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one of the thirty or so people in the room who thought that the top ‘gem’ slot should go to the Southampton Collective itself.
Over the past seven years, the Southampton Collective has developed and supported an impressive number of community, cultural and environmental projects in the city, and the ‘Annual Do’ was an opportunity to highlight them.
Who would have thought that projects like ‘Dead Good Days’ – which fostered discussions about death, and ‘The eel run’ – an art project to raise awareness about an endangered eel species in the River Itchen had much in common?
The connection is the Southampton Collective, which acts as a partner for funding bids and looks after projects’ money.
“People bidding for funding for community, art and environment projects need to be backed by a legal entity – a limited company – and have proper banking and accounting arrangements,” says Rebecca Kinge, one of the four directors. “So we set up the Southampton Collective as a social enterprise to take on that role.
“We act as a support partner to community-based projects to enable them to happen. We call it ‘co-production’”
Among its other projects have been the Umbrella Arts Festival, which it ran in conjunction with SoCo, the music project, and Southampton City Vision – which provided a place for people to contribute their ideas for the city’s future. It also supports the Southampton Climate Action Network.
Community is a driving factor behind the collective, it firmly believes in grassroots-led action, although it also fosters work with others, in particular academics and researchers. It’s focus is on health and well-being for all, creativity and the arts, fairness and inclusion, and environmental sustainability.
The Southampton Collective was set up in 2016, arising out both Transition Southampton and Dangerous Ideas. Transition Southampton, is part of an international network, and runs local sustainability-focussed projects around food, energy, built environment and transport, including the city’s repair cafes.
Dangerous Ideas was a series of discussions and presentations about different aspects of life in the city, particularly cultural, that drew in a large group of local people to its events.
The first ‘Annual Do’ was an attempt by Southampton Collective to build a broader base and make it more accountable to local people and communities – helping ensure that it is relevant to local people and their needs.
It is encouraging people to become members so that it can grow and move forward. Knowing now the important work that the Southampton Collective is doing supporting some grass-roots initiatives in the city, that’s a yes from me.
You can find out more about the Southampton Collective at www.socollective.org.uk.
If you would like to become a member email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Katie Daley-Yates
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