Saturday, 22 December 2012

Issues Facing Croydon TechCity Movement

Last Thursday I attended the Croydon TechCity movement meeting at Matthews Yard. My comments on the presentation about the Stop & Search telephone app(lication) has been posted on Inside Croydon (

There were many other issues raised during the meeting which I discuss here:


Matthews Yard is an interesting project providing flexible workshop with other facilities. Its owner Saif Bonar explained the approach he was seeking to raise £5,000 a small amount of money to buy equipment for a space at the Yard which will become a theatre and events venue, mainly for amateur groups and as a rehearsal space. This method is called crowd funding and it enables lots of people who back a n idea to donate a small amount of money. There is a Cloud Funding organisation: Its website says that it  will help start-up companies look into funding for their new business ventures offline/online. It  also has sections where investors can search for new creative business ideas. Another funding platform is the international for creative projects:  films, games, and music to art, design, and technology.  In its approach the full amount has to be raised for anyone to actually have to pay their money over. Saif is using Kickstarter ( He is to be congratulated for the way in which he explains that his initiative comes ‘against a backdrop of cuts to funding for arts, youth and community projects across the UK which have been felt across the borough’ with specific reference to  the loss of the DavidLean Cinema. ClockTower Arts Complex and Warehouse Theatre.  ‘These recent closures have left London's most populous borough with a vacuum in terms of space available for grass roots, community based arts and cultural activity in the town centre. Theatre groups rehearse in pubs and leave the borough to perform at venues outside the town, as no suitable space is available here. ‘

There are other funding mechanisms as well. One of those attending  the meeting works for Help My Cause based at Croydon Voluntary Action: It is supported among others by the Croydon BME Forum, SME Consortium (also based at CVA) and the Croydon based social enterprise care service PJ’s Community Service.  

Crowd funding can be used for small businesses and community and voluntary groups.  In the case of small businesses this does help owners to expand their services and products and any profits that are generated will be ploughed back into their businesses or enable them to draw money to cover their own costs of living.  Small venues such as is proposed are very important part of the infrastructure for cultural activities. The Alford House Youth Club in Vauxhall part funds itself by day time hiring of its large halls as rehearsal space. The White Bear Theatre on Kennington Park Rd is a small pub based theatre.  I asked Saif whether the administrator of the Warehouse Theatre (which had been shafted by the Council) had been approached as to the possibility of buying its equipment. He explained that he had had being having discussions and there might be a possibility of that happening, along with the possibility of equipment donations from other courses.  Another attendee suggested that the Croydon Youth Theatre be approached because it was going to have to leave the former school building it uses so that it can be converted back into a school.  This suggestion does raise the question of what is going to happen to the equipment owned by major community and voluntary groups that will collapse over the next 2/3 years as a result of Central and Local Government cuts  and the increased problems of raising money from other sources. Given the Couincil’s intention to reduce its role as a supporter of cultural activities, and its wish to develop Fairfield Halls as a monopoly facility (incorporating the names of the David Lean Cinema and the Warehouse Theatre, the development of small business supported cultural venues and activities is to be welcomed, while recognising their potential fragility if the businesses can be sustained profitably.

Crowdfunding in History

Crowdfunding is of course nothing new;  just a new piece of jargon. The member run trade unions, the co-operatives,  building societies, friendly insurance societies, non-Anglican churches, etc  were all built up on the pennies donated by their members, to which more wealthy people added larger sums of money.  The Morning Star newspaper, linked to the Communist Party which is based in Croydon, exists on crowdfunding through its Fighting Fund. Croydon Surrey Opera used a form of crowd funding to buy Clyde Hall as its premises. However, the internet based nature of crowd funding platforms does depend on people with small sums of money to give away/invest knowing about them. Being web based does not solve the problems of people’s lack of information, and the fact that most people do not re-visit sites  on a regular basis. Websites need to be backed by the provision of other sources of information, such as emails updates and newsletters, helping to spread the word. In a very small way this is the function of my EDiary & News and British Black History Digest.

The Problem of Space

In the presentation by Simon of dotmailer ( perhaps the most important issue to emerge was the problem of the type of workspace available for rent. He and his partners had been able to start because there was one complex of office space where the small  units were let on a monthly basis. However as it has grown it has become more and more difficult to find expansion space, which the absence of a great deal of such units in Croydon makes it difficult for start up companies as they grow. This is not a new issue. Years ago in Lambeth a young team developed the early architectural drawing programme. As they expanded they could not find appropriate accommodation in the Borough and moved out of London.

When I undertook the review of community buildings in its area for Stockwell Partnership in 2009/10 I looked at this issue of whether there was scope for community buildings to provide business units. Organisations registered as charities, companies limited by guarantee and industrial and provident societies are themselves businesses, showing social entrepreneurship. Several community buildings already contained space which was  let to other businesses as their operational bases, while others were exploring he possibilities.  

There were already a wide range of small office, business and industrial premises available for renting in and around the Stockwell area, and plans and ideas for the creation of more. Any business units created by the community and voluntary sector would need to take into account the existence of private sector provision in relation to setting their rental and service charges and conditions, and whether they can provide common support services.  There were several sites with potential to create small business units, including the upper floors of public houses. From time to time private sector owned properties  came onto the market which may be suitable for conversion into business units. The possibility of not-for-profit property ownership organisations investing in business units could be explored. There might also be scope for the development of business units if any Church buildings became redundant in the future. 

I drew attention to the need for a lot more knowledge about what the needs and aspiration of businesses were in the Stockwell area to ensure that the development of business units was relevant to help build and sustain local businesses. An important step towards helping to build a support system would be the creation of a database of local businesses. I suggested that this might be a role for Stockwell Park High School as part of its business studies specialism. I recommended that the Partnership discuss with the Ethical Property Company whether it could develop a role in the area to create and manage business units for charities, voluntary groups and social change organisations.

Specialist Office Space Companies

While the Company concentrates on the non-for-profit sector, and may have a role in Croydon there will be a need to identify property companies that will buy up traditional office blocks and convert them into smaller more flexible spaces. In the arts world there are organisations such as Artistic Spaces. Flexible workshop provision is one of the functions of some Development Trusts which are now co-ordinated by their national umbrella group Locality, which takes a lead role in the provision of advice to help the transfer of building assets from local authorities to Trusts. It might also be possible to see if there is scope to find a private wealthy individual who will invest in the creation of specialist accommodation, such as Damien Hirst is doing in Newport St in Kennington with a complex of workspaces, galleries and restaurant.

Adult Education Activities

Another person at the meeting asked whether the Yard could be used as a venue for low cost adult education activities, such as teaching foreign languages. The case was cited of the woman who wanted to offer Italian finding the price of hiring venues prohibitive. Said responded that such activity was a possibility. However, to develop the Yard as an adult education hub will require some effort being put into, for example, discussing with Croydon U3A using the venue for some of its activities, and finding out whether classes could be developed with the Workers’ Educational Association. The WEA is a member controlled organisation set up in 1903 in by people involved in the co-operative and trade union movements in Battersea and is still the largest non-state provider of adult education.  Said regretted the absence of a University in Croydon, but given the massive funding crisis facing Universities, this may not be a bad thing.  What could be developed instead is a ‘People’s University’ meeting the real educational needs of those who have been failed by the school system, by those needing English language skills, and adults who want to develop their interests which the formal adult education providers do not provide for or at a price people cannot afford.

Where Next for Tech City?

TechCity is not an organisation, it is a network of people interested in developing Croydon as a tech hub. It is developing itself as a potential ‘community’ of interest. There are a number of challenges it faces. How can it develop through 2013 as more than a talking shop, a facilitator of advice giving, and a gathering of like minded people at pleasurable events. It will need to recognise that developing as a specialist sector does not make it part of the wider communities of Croydon; businesses can still decide to move away. As I suggested at the end of the meeting it needs to consider how it can contribute to the reduction of the digital divide in Croydon to help people who cannot afford it to have IT access other than in their homes. Further how can it develop a platform which helps non-tech businesses and community and voluntary organisations to promote their products, services and activities to each other, so as to build inter-trading and support that mutual strengthens each other and the money staying in the local economy. Such a platform would have helped with publicising the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Festival and promoting the sale of the pamphlet about him which I published under my History & Social Action imprint.

Generating Ideas and Networking

It was very clear, as is so often the case at such events, that ideas quickly gel which could help to create joint opportunities for people. In Croydon the anti-knife campaign goes into schools. The Stop and Search app designers would like to see it promoted in schools. Perhaps there is scope for joint approaches to schools around a package linking crime, personal responsibility, finances and civil liberties as part of citizenship. Schools might find this easier to incorporate into their timetables than separate organisations each seeking a slot of time.
Networking at these TechCity meetings is important, but there are also other networks. Nobody can go to every meeting. It is beneficial if there are cross-links between different networks to encourage lateral thinking across them, otherwise they can easily become silos of knowledge and activity unrelated to anything else that is going on. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Community & Voluntary Organisations and Local Democracy


British democracy appears to be in crisis: contempt for politicians, disengagement from the political process, low level of participation in elections. A wide range of arguments are put to explain this: political and media spin, hypocritical personal behaviours of politicians (sleeze), the perceived failure of local and central government to deliver on their promises in a way that people can see beneficially affects their lives, or riding rough-shod over widely held concerns. The anti-democratic British National Party was been able to obtain short-term electoral advantage, boosted by anti-asylum seeker and refugee rhetoric from leading mainstream politicians. The operation of democracy may be flawed. There any be considerable room for improvement. But local democratic disengagement is not just down to what central and local government, political parties and the media have been doing since the mid-1970s. It is also down to all those  - the voluntary and community activists – who have spent large amounts of energy slagging off local Councillors, local officials and local authorities, MPs and Government.


There is a continual process of tensions between community and voluntary organisations and local Councillors. The former are very often frustrated by the lack of leadership and control over the machinery of their Councils, their apparent failure to address the needs of people the organisations are working with or representing. Having a democratic mandate through the electoral process Councillors often resent the continual criticism from community and voluntary groups, and argue that they have the democratic mandate while the groups do not. There is truth in both perspectives.

Community and voluntary groups which constantly criticise Councillors are in danger of contributing to the disengagement with the electoral process. Community and voluntary groups also have imperfections: they can be dominated by a few individuals, they can be inward looking, they can be arrogant, they often squabble among themselves; none of which helps the people they claim to be working with and for.

Councillors need to understand that they cannot know everything that is going on in their wards. With the decline in party political organisation they need to link with other ways in which people get involved in democratic civil engagement – namely membership of community and voluntary organisations. These organisations can also be useful sources of information and analysis against which they can test the advice from Council officers.

Of course there will often be tensions and conflicts, but community and voluntary activists need to keep in mind that the promotion of democracy through civil engagement can only strengthen the way in which local government meets needs.

Background History 

Today’s community and voluntary groups are the heirs of the, mutual and self-help collective organisations - friendly, loan, building, co-operative and trade union societies – which  helped develop important aspects of British democracy. This democracy involved the election of officers and their accountability back to the members at quarterly and later annual meetings. They developed skills in running organisations that were transferred into local government as wider suffrage led to activists being elected. British democracy gained its strength from mass involvement - in its practice and in debates about its theory.

Low election turnouts are not a new phenomenon. The Holborn Conservatives bemoaned it when in 1937 six Labour Councillors were elected for the first time. This anecdote is a reminder that achieving high levels of local electoral participation has to be worked at. Where local political parties take their vote for granted, and/or do not work to convince people to vote, then turnouts remain low. If political parties reduce their own internal democracy and alienate members, they will not have enough people to make the face to face contact with electors that is an essential part of sustaining a culture of electoral and democratic involvement.

Local Government Reforms
The Labour Governments between 1997 and 2010 considered that local government reform will reinvigorate democracy. It was debatable whether the implementation of its largely technical proposals will do so. Government policies about putting people at the heart of decision making were seen as empty rhetoric, as it continued to exert heavy central control over spending programmes such as New Deal for Communities and Neighbourhood Renewal, or imposed  unpopular decisions like the expansion of Heathrow airport and overruled local campaigners, Councils and Planning Inspectors over development schemes such as tower blocks along the Thames corridor. While it recognised that regenerating deprived communities would take 15-20 years, it was impatient for results. It did not give people and organisations a chance to obtain results before forcing another set of reforms. The consensus about local regeneration and community well-being that might be achievable through Community Strategies and Local Strategic Partnerships could result in electors thinking that there is no need to vote, because voting for a particular political party is not going to radically alter the consensus.

Devolution in Scotland and Wales has not solved the problem of disengagement. The proposed devolution for English regions was dubious in terms of any potential claimed for it for improving democratic engagement. No wonder it was rejected in the referendums. What might begin to make a difference and enable people to engage is to require the establishment of neighbourhood governance structures or reduce the size of local authorities.

The policies of the ConDem Government since 2010, and there further changes like the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners and the recent by-elections, have only confirmed the public’s deep disengagement. As more and more scandals have come public, including the media and the banks, it has become clearer and clear that the politicians have little control over what happens.

Voting Seen as Irrelevant 

Electors cannot be criticised for thinking that voting is irrelevant when so many decisions seem to be out of the hands of elected politicians: the requirements of the European Community, the power of multi-nationals, and the devolution at arms-length of so many services to regulators and other unelected bodies. Nor can they be criticised for thinking that politicians often get too involved in issues largely irrelevant to the majority of people, as was the case with fox-hunting under Labour. The cautious approach to House of Lords reform reinforces this by missing the opportunity to develop a new equal relationship between the four nations, and a new approach to UK wide governance.

The roots of the current crisis have been growing slowly over a number of decades. As the population sizes of Parliamentary constituencies and local authority wards have grown, it becomes more and more difficult for people to have regular personal contact with their MPs and councillors. The cumulative decline of engagement in democratically controlled organisations, like friendly societies, co-operatives and trade unions, has eroded people’s experience of democratic representation and participation. This is underpinned by a popular lack of historic understanding of the struggle to build democracy and the consequences of not rigorously defending and promoting democratic participation. The strength of evolving British democracy lay in mass involvement in its practice and in debates about its theory through mutual associations.

Commercially driven ‘consumerism’ makes people only think of themselves, and reject collective solutions. This has been reinforced by Governments seeing people as ‘consumers’, not as ‘citizens’ with a right to services, and by many mutuals downgrading democratic engagement.

Popular engagement in politics has had its historic ebbs and flows. It is difficult to tell whether we are in an ebb from which we can recover, or are spiralling downwards to an extent that it will be difficult to recover support for both representative and participatory democracy.

The Reforms 

The Government reforms to the democratic environment have difficult to understand, especially with a degree of devolution of power from Central Government:

·                     Cabinet Government and directly elected Mayors in local authorities
·                     Local Strategic Partnerships
·                     Devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
·                     London’s Mayor and the Greater London Assembly and elected Mayors elsewhere
·                     Regional Chambers, Regional Government Offices and Regional Development Agencies (until abolished by the ConDem Government).

We may want to but we cannot ignore the way the democratic structures have been been re-shaped, and the way in which the ConDem Government cuts may be threatening the financial viability of many local authorities. Both the re-shaped structures and the cuts affect the policies being pursued and the resources available to community and voluntary organisations as service deliverers and community development agents.

Democracy was Built from Below

British historical experience suggests that the challenge of reversing political disengagement and strengthening both representative and participatory democracy cannot be left just to politicians. Democracy was built from below, and will need to be re-built from below. There will be an important role in this for practical organisation of a new 'associationism’. There is considerable scope for this within local communities. Networking and alliance building is crucial.

All advances on the road to democracy were pioneered by people with a minority perspective, whether political radicals or motivated by faith. Such groups need to be nurtured and funded to play their role in creative questioning and suggesting new solutions and approaches.

CVS Role in Fostering Democratic Engagement 

Community and voluntary organisations indirectly foster democratic engagement in many ways.

·                     They bring people into contact with each other reducing social isolation
·                     They help build personal, neighbourhood and group connections and understanding about issues of concern
·                     They support the creation and running of organisations and campaigns that seek to meet emerging needs, that are not yet being addressed by local and central government
·                     They work through networks and in partnerships, sitting round the table seeking to influence the decisions being made by local government
·                     They are self-appointed voices, claiming to articulate the voices of people in the neighbourhoods in which they work

Possible Actions 

There are many ways in which community and voluntary organisations help or can help foster democratic engagement: 

·                     Advocate neighbourhood forums
·                     Provide briefing, training and other support to people taking part in neighbourhood forum
·                     Undertake voter registration
·                     Contact households not on draft electoral registers
·                     Offer their buildings as election polling stations
·                     Keep in touch with any plans to introduce electronic voting, so that people can vote electronically at their buildings
·                     Produce a guide on how the local Council works, and how to influence it
·                     Run informal learning opportunities that help explain how local government works, and how people can engage with it
·                     Provide space for Councillor and MP surgeries
·                     Run a community newspaper
·                     Take part in the broad networks
·                     Act as a venue for the posting of planning applications and run sessions about them with residents affected
·                     Provide activities that celebrate community and democratic history
·                     Run local election meetings at which residents can question candidates
·                     Host report back meetings for local councillors
·                     Raise issues of concern with the members of the Council Scrutiny Committee
·                     Get to know the Leader and the Executive Councillors
·                     Invite local Councillors to events and keep them informed about the organisation’s work

Building a Stronger Community in Croydon


Discussions around the country on issues of community strategies, neighbourhood renewal and regeneration often become bogged down over the different meanings people give to words like ‘community’, and ‘sustainable development’, ‘community cohesion’ and ‘respect’ (the relationship between different social groups). The development of future strategies for Croydon need to be underpinned by a common understanding between those involved in devising and implementing them as to what they mean by these concepts. This note discusses these concepts. 

What is ‘community’? 

‘Community’ can be defined as the web of personal relationships, groups, networks, traditions and patterns of behaviour:

·                     that exist amongst those who share physical neighbourhoods socio-economic conditions or common understandings and interests
·                     that develop against the backdrop of the physical neighbourhood and its socio-economic situation.

The word ‘community’ is often treated as a single entity. It is not – it is comprised of many different overlapping communities, including:

·                     geographic - people living in a  neighbourhood or on an estate
·                     of interest sharing concerns and perspectives e.g. users, disabled, ethnic, faith, gender/sexuality, age based, interest, workplace, business, sport, hobby

People move in and out of different communities, and can belong to more than one community at any one time. However:

·                     Some communities are more privileged than others
·                     Many communities can be excluded


·                     What are the many varied ‘communities’ in Croydon?
·                     Which are more privileged than others?
·                     Which are excluded or perceive themselves to be excluded?

The answers to these questions should form part of the analysis which underpins what the needs and aspirations of residents as individuals and collectively in their different communities that should be addressed. .

What Makes for a Good Community?

The following are ten key characteristics for a good and well functioning community that have been identified.

(1)          A learning community, where people and groups gain knowledge, skills and confidence through community action.
(2)          A fair and just community, which upholds civic rights and equality of opportunity, and which recognizes and celebrates the distinctive features of its cultures.
(3)          An active and empowered community, where people are fully involved and which has strong and varied local organisations and a clear identity and self-confidence.
(4)          An influential community, which is consulted and has a strong voice in decisions which affect its interests.
(5)          An economically strong community, which creates opportunities for work and which retains a high proportion of its wealth.
(6)          A caring community, aware of the needs of its members and in which services are of good quality and meet these needs.
(7)          A green community, with a healthy and pleasant environment, awareness of environmental responsibility.
(8)          A safe community, where people do not fear crime, violence or other hazards.
(9)          A welcoming community, which people like, feel happy about and do not wish to leave.
(10)        A lasting community, which is well established and likely to survive.


·                     Do current strategies reflect these characteristics?
·                     To what extent is Croydon such a community?
·                     Do current priorities and objectives help Croydon become a better functioning community? 

How integral is community development?

‘Community Development’ aims to enrich the web of relationships and make its threads stronger, to develop self-confidence and skills, so that the community (the people) can begin to make significant improvements to their neighbourhood (the place) and its material environment.

A critical aspect of the local Community Strategies is supposed to be that they are produced with the local communities that make up the local authority area. This requires agencies to develop close links with communities at neighbourhood and special interest level. This requires agencies having a ‘community development’ approach.

·                     How strong or weak are current strategies on the ‘community development’ aspects of building a stronger civil society and developing ways to ensure the local people are able to influence the decisions that affect their lives.

The community development approach, as explained by the Standing Conference on Community Development, starts from the assumption that most social problems are rooted in the political, social and economic structure. It is the process of building active and sustainable communities based on social justice and mutual respect. It is about changing power structures to remove the barriers that prevent people from participating in the issues that affect their lives. Community workers support the participation of people in this process. They enable connections to be made between communities and with the development of wider policies and programmes. It expresses values of fairness, equality, accountability, opportunity, choice, participation, mutuality, reciprocity and continuous learning. Educating, enabling and empowering are at the core of Community Development. 

Do current Croydon strategies make it clear:

·                     How service providers work with communities to develop policies, programmes and services?
·                     What policies and strategies do they already have to support community development?
·                     How these policies are shared and developed into an overall strategy to support community development?
·                     How the general public is informed about support for community development by  organisations bin both their individual and partnership roles?

What is known about the extent of Community Development in Croydon, where it is strong and where it is weak?

·                     Which agencies employ community workers?
·                     Do these workers provide general support for community activity or is their role more specialist?
·                     How many community workers are employed and are they employed on a long term or time limited basis?
·                     How many people are undertaking development with communities on an unpaid basis?
·                     What support of organisations provide to people working with communities on an unpaid basis?
·                     In which geographic neighbourhoods are there community workers (paid and unpaid)?
·                     Are resources for community workers allocated in ways that promote equity within and between communities?
·                     How many community workers employed by different agencies and those working in an unpaid basis work together? What are the opportunities for networking? 


·                     Which agencies fund community development at present?
·                     What proportion of funding is from mainstream sources and how much is through short-term initiatives?
·                     Which organisations provide long-term core funding to community organisations?
·                     Which organisations have small grant schemes for specific projects and how are these schemes publicised?
·                     How much finding is allocated to particular neighbourhoods and communities of interest?
·                     What application and monitoring processes are used by organisations and can these be simplified?
·                     How does funding promote equity within and between communities?
·                     How are communities involved in setting funding priorities? 

Other Resources 

·                     How is information from organisations made available to communities? Is it clear, jargon-free and available in relevant places, formats and languages?
·                     How is information about communities produced and shared by organisations? For example, are people within communities trained and employed to carry out surveys and are the results shared appropriately by different organisations?
·                     What resources such as buildings, information communication technology, printing, and equipment exist? How can these be made more accessible to communities?
·                     What use do public sector organisations make of goods and services supplied by community businesses and how could this be developed? 


·                     What community development learning opportunities do organisations already support?
·                     Do learning opportunities exist for community activists and volunteers, community workers, managers, people from diverse professional and service backgrounds, school and college students, and elected members?
·                     How can organisations work together to support the development of accessible leaning opportunities?
·                     What opportunities are there for organisations to learn together and with communities about partnership working? How can these opportunities be developed? 


·                     How are public sector organisations in Croydon evaluating community development?
·                     What is the learning to date and how has this been disseminated to those with a potential interest?
·                     What resources will public sector organisations make available for evaluation?
·                     How does learning from previous community development work inform the work of public service organisations?

Valuing Difference and Diversity

The concept suggested above of ‘community’ recognises that there are a range of diversity needs of different social, cultural, and ethnic groups. A key issue for debate is how this diversity can be respected and catered for, while at the same time connections be made between diverse groups in order to avoid the creation of separateness. This lies at the centre of the concept of ‘community cohesion’. The concept of respect between different groups is also linked to ‘community cohesion’.

The concept of ‘respect’ includes:

·                     valuing differences – different cultures, backgrounds, skills, faiths, abilities and disabilities
·                     acknowledging and recognising people’s life experiences and the choices they make
·                     sharing common bonds and working together on issues that concern us all
·                     being accountable – politicians should be accountable for their decisions. The council and other organisations that provide services should respond quickly and politely when people need help.

‘Respect’ can be shown towards each other by:

·                     treating other people as we wish to be treated
·                     leading by example
·                     being open and welcoming
·                     embracing other cultures
·                     giving thanks and positive feedback when these are due?

But ‘respect’ is more than just about the way different individuals and groups perceive and treat each other. It is also about the perceptions and actions of different agencies like those represented on Lambeth First.

Young people often say that they feel excluded and disrespected. Could the following measures help them feel more included?

·                     Youth centres and activities in schools and community venues – these should be inclusive and accessible for all young people, especially those with disabilities and others who find it hard to get involved. Youth should be able to take more responsibility for their clubs and centres.
·                     Opportunities for discussion – a chance for young people to talk about what’s important to them and to educate each other around issues like teenage pregnancy
·                     Young people should be taught from an early age to respect people, property and the community – adults should lead by example
·                     Affordable housing – for everyone, but particularly young single people and couples

Older people need to feel valued. Can this be fostered by providing:

·                     safe, easily accessible places to socialise, communicate and support each other
·                     access to transport
·                     adequate funding
·                     opportunities for their voices to be heard?

Disabled and vulnerable people can be better supported by:

·                     independent living support schemes run and managed by people with disabilities and their allies
·                     safe, accusable places to socialise - with transport provided
·                     disability awareness training run by people with disabilities
·                     fully accessible schools so that all children can be educated together
·                     a GCSE/A-level in sign language to help young people communicate with people who have hearing difficulties
·                     well-publicised consultation meetings where people with disabilities can express their views
·                     better communication with health professionals – people with disabilities need information so that they can make intelligent decisions on their care

Unemployed people are often treated as if they are worthless, workshy and on the scrap heap. . Being in work makes people feel included and increases their self-esteem – this can include unpaid voluntary work. People should be able to find work, regardless of their race or disability. Young people starting out in the world of work need support such as: modern apprenticeships, business advice, financial guidance and grants, good vocational education, scholarships for further and higher education. 

Relevance to Life in Croydon 

·                     To what extent is ‘respect’ about individuals’ relationships with each other?
·                     How can individuals develop ‘respect’ if they do not meet with people in other social, cultural and ethnic groups?
·                     To what extent are the suggestions outlined above being adequately met in Croydon through the work of the Council (education, social services, leisure & amenities, economic development, etc), the health service, the police, the employment service, private employers, and community and voluntary groups?
·                     What more needs to be done in order to help create a more ‘Cohesive and Respectful’ Croydon?