Friday, 1 October 2010

Riverside Community Development Trust and Lady Margaret Hall Settlement (LMHS) to form joint board

I know that Lurking about SE11 can sometimes appear rather whingy, so I've decided to share some interesting local news.  The RCDT (Riverside Community Development Trust) and LMHS (Lady Margaret Hall Settlement) have formed a joint committee for the running of their operations.  This looks to be a positive development as it allows them to share buildings, resources and expertise.  Whilst the two organisations will remain separate on paper, they will share the same board members.  The LMHS appear to have rewritten their website, and in a nod of gratitude towards our forebears, (as with the Vauxhall Civic Society website), we'll receive additional access to history and imagery from the LMHS archives in the months to come.

So, what are they up to at the moment?  20 Newburn Street has been leased to Real World UK for the provision of free computer training.  This is a an important project, and (for those with long memories) is how the centre was used when it first opened back in 2003.  I'm a firm believer in digital literacy because without being online, a great many people in our society are simply cut off from information about services (benefits information, train/tube times, community initiatives, bus route changes, holiday deals, money saving deals, council services etc).  The aim of this project is to open the world of employment and training to people who are not confident using the internet or computers.  Once I find out a little more about when they'll be up and running, I'll post the times of the free classes here.

I fear that we're about to enter a challenging time in the UK's history, but I hope we've developed local friendships that might see us through.  We've the Kennington Oval Vauxhall forum to form an umbrella which should feed views from all local organisations to Lambeth Council.  There's the new Vauxhall Civic Society (who cover the entire Vauxhall constituency down to Brixton and Clapham), the stalwart Kennington Association (open to anybody who might claim to living anywhere near Kennington), the combined RCDT/LMHS, more friends groups than you could wave a stick at eg. Friends of Kennington Cross, Friends of Kennington Park etc.  I've counted 11 local "friends of" groups.  See if you can identify anybody that I've missed (I've updated a "friends of" post made in September 2008).  Additionally, there's the Kennington Gardens Society (now with a new section on their site so that you can ask them questions), the Onion Shed folk, intent on greening North Lambeth, the Kennington People on Bikes (KPOB) keeping an eye out on cycling and safety in the area...  What more could we want? 

I have a theory that people committed to the community attract more people committed to the community.  That we've so many local groups demonstrates the commitment of south east Londoners to look out for one another.  Such networking and community spirit will be essential over the next few years (and are arguably at the root of maintaining anything that might be described as "civic" society). There is (as far as I know) nothing in the rest of the London blogosphere comparable with the network forged by bloggers in South East London.  Last night's Battle of the Blogs being one such demonstration).  The world will look considerably different after PE (Public Expenditure?  Physical Education? Punishing England?) Day on the 20th October.  That's the day the government will outline their cuts. I think we'll need all of our community groups (and more) to coalesce to ensure that the vulnerable on all of our patches still receive some semblance of service.  If the Big Society / Co-Op vision ever comes to fruition, we'll need our friends and neighbours more than ever, because I don't see the State popping in to visit us when we're sick or ensure that our bins are emptied regularly or that we maintain a commitment to recycling and re-use.

Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall are all great areas to move to if you're looking to be involved locally, be that in committee work, gardening, bike projects or Tai Chi.  I often complain that central London can be an isolating place, but the people that runs the committees, hold the meetings and get their hands dirty all help to build the links we need to make us a community and not just another Zone 2 location.

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