#BrixtonFund: Local Group of the Month – Hero’s Journey

Over the last nine months, Ciaran Thapar and Rory Bradshaw have been volunteering at their local community centre in Loughborough Junction. Backed by the Brixton Fund, the Brixton Pound’s micro-grants scheme, they have established Hero’s Journey – a weekly discussion group for teenage boys. Here, they explain the story so far.

How did Hero’s Journey start?

Our involvement at Marcus Lipton Community Centre (MLCC) began in September 2015, when we were first buzzed through the front door. It is a single-floor building next to the weathered railway arches in Loughborough Junction, resting in the shadows of Loughborough Estate’s huge white tower blocks, whose lights are visible from our living room window at night.

Youth centre3

Ira, Ciaran and Rory outside Marcus Lipton Community Centre. Photo credit: Tristan Bejawn

We spoke at length with Ira, the warm, pragmatic man in charge. Over a series of visits, he told us stories about growing up in Brixton, from the 1970s to the present day – the gangs, police, raves and racism.

That month, the Evening Standard launched their regeneration initiative, ‘The Estate We’re In’, aiming to drive attention towards London’s housing estates. The first article was written by a journalist who had spent a week living in Angell Town estate, and the consensus at MLCC was that the voices of the people interviewed had been misrepresented. It was seen as another case of the British media perpetuating negative stereotypes about black young men in the inner city.

Tragically, in the same few weeks, a 16-year-old boy, Jarrell (who we unfortunately never had the chance to meet), was killed on the road outside the centre. The flowers arranged on the pavement in commemoration, weathered and untouched, are still there today.

It was a sensitive time, and whilst welcoming our interest in volunteering, Ira warned us that we would not become embedded overnight. Sure enough, the first few months mainly involved just hanging out at the centre, building trust, reassuring everyone that we were neither journalists (the Evening Standard had made people paranoid), nor undercover policemen.

In November, with help from Jacqueline Gomes-Neves, the former youth mayor for Lambeth, we won £1000 from the Brixton Fund to develop the ‘Brixton Youth Forum’. This is an umbrella term for all youth activity at MLCC (including the pre-existing girls’ group), within which Hero’s Journey functions.

What is Hero’s Journey?

Every Friday evening we hold an hour-long session (a ‘journey’), each time sparking a conversation about a selected topic. Our simple aim is to get the boys (‘heroes’) to talk regularly, openly and critically about things that relate to their lives. We frame each discussion around a cultural resource – such as a book, item of food, photograph or newspaper article.

IMG_0066

In one journey, we brought Asian snacks – pakora, sushi and a bright selection of Indian sweets – and discussed London’s cultural diversity, challenging the heroes to compare and contrast their own respective eating norms at home (most the boys are from Jamaican households, some West or East African).

During others, we used photography books Don’t Call Me Urban (Simon Wheatley’s documentation of the roots of grime music amidst London’s council estates between 1998-2010) and the Great Brixton Photobook (a collection of images depicting moments of local history), to spark discussions about topics such as stereotyping, ‘stop-and-search’ and gentrification.

In our most recent journey, we held a debate about the EU referendum, which inspired some insightful commentary on the pros and cons of immigration, as well as some less concrete reasoning – “apparently if we leave the EU it’s gonna cost £35 for a trim!”, one of the boys claimed.

Week after week, we encounter new, curious faces, eager to participate and voice their thoughts. The group is always different (it’s size ranges from 3 to 12); most heroes attend different schools, some claim not to attend at all. Some come from stable homes, others from more challenging circumstances. Although the sparse room the group occupies each week might not have the sheen of polished oak and the comfort of green leather seats, the debates that unfold offer a more acute window into the perspectives of ordinary young people than those in the Commons Chamber ever could.

We are using the bulk of our £1000 funding to run a three-day programme in August (we have already used some of it for refreshments and attendance rewards at each journey). Our plan is to visit different places across London, enabling the heroes to engage in new experiences around the city. As part of the programme, we are also working with the Black Cultural Archives on Windrush Square to develop a journey about local history.

What problem are we trying to solve?

On top of giving the heroes space to discuss their ideas, Hero’s Journey also allows us, as newcomers to the area, to learn from, and become part of, our local community. In other words: it’s as much about our own learning curve – our own journey – as it is the boys’.

Our view is that some of the current unease with gentrification stems from the way that gentrified areas become split across the fault-lines of class and race. If you walk along Coldharbour Lane, from the backstreets of Loughborough Junction towards central Brixton, you will notice an obvious shift in atmosphere as the feeling of neglect evaporates. The various eateries in Brixton Village and Pop Brixton now appear to exist for a particular type of customer: (predominantly) white, monied twenty-and-thirty-somethings – not those who are likely to ever set foot in MLCC, even though it is just up the road.

The reality is that many of our fellow newcomers to Brixton are leading detached lives from the longstanding communities around them. They socialise at different bars and restaurants. They buy their fish, meat and vegetables at Sainsbury’s instead of the market. And in the week, they commute to and from jobs across the city, barely engaging with the civic space they live in. Through Hero’s Journey, we have been trying to disturb this status quo.

Youth centre1

Ira, Ciaran and Rory outside Marcus Lipton Community Centre. Photo credit: Tristan Bejawn

Since our initial contact with Ira, we have formed strong, organic relationships with other staff members and many of the young men and women, boys and girls, who treat MLCC as their second home. To them, the centre is a safe haven: they know they can spend their Friday nights there, under the wing of Ira and his staff. For the Hero’s Journey boys in particular, they also now know that both of us will be there each week to hear them out.

We believe that our achievements so far, more than anything else, demonstrate that with the right approach it is possible for people like us – young adult graduates, moving into an evolving urban area – to become part of our local community. The bonus is that each journey is the most enjoyable part of our week.

Ciaran and Rory

Please get in touch with Ciaran and Rory at herosjourneyml[at]gmail[dot]com if you would like to support Hero’s Journey in any way  (e.g. with ideas for the summer programme, to tag along for a session, or host a session!) or if you just want to meet up locally to discuss it in greater detail. 

Hero’s Journey’s logo was designed by Benjy Nugent, who kindly did it for free. It’s inspired by a tribal mask using the aesthetic of inner-city life. The photos were taken by Tristan Bejawn who will be tagging along to the next few journeys and on the summer programme to get portraits of the participants – so watch this space for more visuals from Hero’s Journey!

Ciaran talking about Hero's Journey at the Brixton Fund event in June. Photo credit: Mike Urban / Brixton Buzz

Ciaran talking about Hero’s Journey at the Brixton Fund event in June. Photo credit: Mike Urban / Brixton Buzz

In November 2015, Brixton Youth Forum / Hero’s Journey received £1000 from the Brixton Fund, the Brixton Pound’s local micro-grants scheme. The Brixton Fund is funded by Brixton Bonus ticket sales, sale of B£ merchandise in the Brixton Pound Shop, and a 1.5% business transaction fee on pay-by-text B£ payments. So – whenever you play to win B£1000, grab yourself a snazzy B£ T-shirt or simply do your weekly shop in B£s, you’re helping to fund local groups like Hero’s Journey.

#BrixtonBonus Meet The Winner: Miss South

Congrats to the latest Brixton Bonus winner, Miss South! A Brixton food blogger and food and drink editor at the Brixton Blog and Bugle, she is also the author of the amazing Recipes from Brixton Village, a collection of recipes contributed from traders as well as her own recipes showcasing Brixton produce.

Miss South was actually one of the first to start playing Brixton Bonus when we launched it last June – read her article from back then on what she’d spend her prize on if she won. 12 months later, she is actually a Brixton Bonus Thousandaire, and wrote another piece for us now that she actually has B£1,000 to spend! 

“I’ve been a big fan of the Brixton Pound since it started over five years ago, but to my eternal shame I never used it that much. I kept forgetting to go to Morleys for paper notes and I blew all the credit I put on the text account on wine at a party B£ hosted the same night and never topped up again.

Then the Brixton Pound launched the Brixton Bonus and I decided this was an excellent time to get involved. In signing up on the website, I discovered I had £14 in my text account from someone buying Recipes from Brixton Village from me at the Lambeth Country Show two years ago in the pouring rain. 

Perfect for a disorganised person, I set up a standing order for two tickets a month by the magic of the internet and forget about it. Until I got an unexpected phone call to say I’d won the £1000 prize and then I definitely remembered I’d played!

Registered in my real name, this was the genuine luck of the draw and I was thrilled. The beauty of the Bonus for me is that’s all disposable income to spend with local independent traders in my own community. I can’t accidentally fritter it away on the gas bill. I’ve got to go out and spend it proactively instead.

I’d done a piece for B£ when they launched the Bonus as to what I’d spend it on if I won and interestingly I haven’t done a single thing off that list yet. Partly because the list of traders who accept B£ has increased so much, and because I also realised it was a good way to do things locally that don’t just involve me eating for once.

Instead I wanted to finally get some stuff framed that’s been sitting round my flat for years looking forlorn, and need to go in to see Studio 73 about that. I’ve been having a few niggling health issues and immediately booked in with both Brixton Therapy Centre and Brixton Community Acupuncture to ease those (or kid myself I’m not just getting old!)

I plan to make a donation to both Brixton Advice Centre and Brixton and Norwood Food Bank who both do fantastic community work and very rarely have disposable income or choices on how to spend their money.

And then I might just eat my way round Brixton. There’s always somewhere new to try round here and it would be a shame to not to stuff myself for the good of the community…”

info_g_cropped

How can you be the next winner?

It’s very simple: buy a ticket online or at the B£ Shop for £1 – you can get anywhere between 1 and 10 tickets to help your chances – and on Friday, 1st July you can walk away with one of the following:

  • A Brixton Grand – B£1,000 all of your own to spend on whatever you fancy!
  • 4 cocktails to share with a friend at the snazzy Seven at Brixton, official Brixton Fund partner.
  • One of 5 B£20 runners-up cash prizes to treat yourself with

And if you fancy some extra rewards, we give them out to anyone who sets up a recurring monthly entry, starting at £1/month – more details here. Most importantly of all, all revenue from the Brixton Bonus goes into the Brixton Fund!

Brixton Fund gives out grants for the second time!

On Tuesday 7th June we held the first ever public Brixton Fund event at Brixton East 1871, and together with Brixton’s community made the final decisions for this round of grants. Our idea was to make the grant-giving process more transparent, participatory, and democratic, so the public’s involvement was absolutely crucial! Thank you to everyone who came along, supported the event, spread the word, or got involved in any other way.

Out of all 60 applicants to this round of funding, with the help of our Fund Panel, we shortlisted nine. Representatives of these were present at the event and everyone had a chance to speak to them about their project and the work they do. Then, each person was given 10 chickpeas with which they could vote for the projects – all were guaranteed some amount of funding, but the public vote helped decide on its distribution between the projects. After we counted up the chickpeas, the final results were:

Keep an eye on our blog and Funded Projects page for more information and features about this cohort of Brixton Fund grant recipients, and check out the projects we funded previously too.

Photo credit Mike Urban/Brixton Buzz

Advocacy Academy got £2,000 to fund a 4-day residential programme for young leaders. This one and above photo credit Mike Urban/Brixton Buzz

Brixton Buzz and Brixton Blog both published nice write ups about the event and the feedback we got from community members was overwhelmingly positive (if you were there on the night and would like to let us know what you thought, please do fill out this short survey!) More pictures are on the B£ Facebook page. If you took photos on the night we’d love to see them too!

The future of community activities in Brixton

Photo credit Charlie Waterhouse / This Ain't Rock'n'Roll

Photo credit Charlie Waterhouse / This Ain’t Rock’n’Roll

While we were busy counting up the chickpeas, the main floor was given to a discussion on the future of community activities in Brixton. The Panelists included:

  • Binki Taylor (chair) – Chair of the Brixton Pound
  • Cllr Donatus Anyanwu – Lead Member for Community Relations, Lambeth Council
  • Rebecca Trevalyan – Head of Partnerships, Impact Hub Brixton
  • Mike Urban – Editor of Urban75 and Brixton Buzz
  • Sue Sheehan – Green Champion, Lambeth
  • Kwesi Shaddai – Regional Organiser, London, Edge Fund

With many questions from the audience the discussion was very lively, and we all agreed it needs to continue. That’s why we wanted to point you in the direction of Open Project Nights which happen every Monday 18.30-22.30 hosted by Impact Hub Brixton and Transition Town Brixton. The sessions are free and open to all, and can be used for working, networking, holding meetings, themed events, and you can experience the immediate benefit of engaging with inspiring community projects and enterprises. Current projects include Bank of Lambeth and The People’s Fridge, a community fridge that Impact Hub and TTB are currently crowdfunding for. Get involved!

Join the Brixton Fund Panel

As we asked on Tuesday night, we are looking for community members who would like to join the Fund Panel who scores applications to the Brixton Fund. It would require scoring up to 10 applications (2-4 pages long) twice a year. If you or anyone you know would like to get involved in this way, please email us on info(at)brixtonpound(dot)org with your or their name, email, and phone number.

info_g_cropped

 

How you can support the Brixton Fund

The next round of funding is planned for autumn, and we’d like to make it even bigger than this one! If you’d like to support the Brixton Fund, you can do so in a number of ways:


Once again, thank you to all involved for your trust, enthusiasm, and participation in the Brixton Fund. The next round opens in October and we hope that with your support it can be even bigger and better!

Brixton Fund – shortlist for round 2, and how to get involved

The Brixton Fund is the Brixton Pound’s local grants scheme, introduced last year to increase the resources available for community and socially-minded activities in the area. For the current round of funding we have received a huge and unprecedented number of applications from people wanting to do good things in Brixton, which shows how crucially needed this kind of support is in the local area. All of the applications were scored by members of the Fund Panel, who voluntarily give their time to help us decide which applications to take forward.

Though we are not able to fund everyone, we endeavour to stay in touch with all applicants and facilitate support from other avenues, either through using the Brixton Pound shop space or the Pop Brixton Community Investment Scheme.

Nine projects were shortlisted, which means they are all guaranteed to receive some support from the Brixton Fund in this round:


 This is where you come in!

We want to bring people together to help us decide how the Fund money should be distributed between the shortlisted projects: please join us on Tuesday 7 June at 6.00pm (6.30pm start) at the beautiful Brixton East, just off Coldharbour Lane.

At the event, you will be provided with information about each shortlisted project, and given a certain amount of tokens to “fund” the projects according to how you think they should receive support. At the end of the night we will count up your votes and allocate funding to each project accordingly.

We’ll also hear from people who we’ve previously funded, as well as present the Brixton Exchange – our social programme which, in addition to the Brixton Fund, creates new resources for community activities in Brixton.

We will also be hosting a panel discussion that addresses the question: how can community activities exist, let alone thrive, at a time when London’s development creates increasingly difficult conditions for it. It is a big question that is worthy of proper debate, and we hope to have a frank and hopefully productive exchange of views, reflected by the panel we have put together:

  • Binki Taylor (chair) – Chair of the Brixton Pound
  • Cllr Donatus Anyanwu – Lead Member for Community Relations, Lambeth Council
  • Rebecca Trevalyan – Head of Partnerships, Impact Hub Brixton
  • Mike Urban – Editor of Urban75 and Brixton Buzz
  • Sue Sheehan – Green Champion, Lambeth
  • Kwesi Shaddai – Regional Organiser, London, Edge Fund

Among music, nibbles and drinks (Brixton Fund sponsor three eight four will be joining us for the evening) we’ll also be running a raffle where someone will be going home with a highly-coveted limited edition David Bowie Brixton Pound print. The first one went for over £1000, so this is a seriously hot piece of property!

Register for a free ticket here: brixtonfund.eventbrite.com Please share the invite with your friends and networks!

#BrixtonBonus Meet The Winner: Urszula

Urszula won the April draw of the Brixton Bonus. She joins the growing crowd of winners, who are featured in our Winners Gallery – have a look! And make sure you get some Bonus tickets before the next draw on 27th May – who knows, it could be you next time! Better yet, set up a recurring entry to never miss a chance for a Brixton Grand – and get some extra goodies as a reward from us.

“I read about the Bonus in the Bugle where there was an article about it. And I thought that you stood a better chance of winning the Bonus than the National Lottery! I had been playing for a few months before I won, and thought that whether I win or not, it’s really good that the money raised goes towards funding local groups around Brixton. Giving a chance to people who perhaps would find it hard to get funding otherwise. Everyone deserves a chance, and when you work hard and have an idea sometimes you just need a little bit of help to keep you going and spur you on. And then winning was just a surprise!”

“I would like to take my family out for a meal when everyone’s at home! Other than that I have been to my favourite shop Market Row Wines, I think that was the first place where I bought something with my winnings. Then some pizza from Franco Manca. And also new gloves from Brixton Cycles! It has made me more aware of which shops take B£ and which do not. I do think it would be really good if more shops joined in the scheme. People want to spend their money locally; more shops just need to be convinced. But yes, it has made me find out more about spending in local shops.”

“I’m also going to donate some of my winnings to the Ebony Horse Club in Loughborough Junction. I think opportunities for people to have a go at things they normally wouldn’t get the chance to do are great!

“I do think it has been really good that B£ has had a physical embodiment on the high street. It makes people much more aware of them. Because it is on the high street it meant I could go in and talk to a real person and find out more about the Bonus and what it does.”

“I’ve lived in Brixton for 30 years now, and I’ve always shopped in the market, the health food shop, the fabric shop, veg shop, Franco Manca… And just the covered markets in general. Before that I used to come here when I was a student, the markets have always been a really good place to shop: I would come to buy fruit and veg here because there was no market near where I lived. You get all kinds stuff: fish, fruit, fabrics… You could always buy unusual things too – the Reliance Arcade was a great place for that! Even my mum in the 50s used to shop in the market when she first came to London. All you need in a neighbourhood is a park and a market.”

Would you wanna win B£1,000 while supporting the local economy and the Brixton Fund too? Go ahead, play the Brixton Bonus!

We’re hiring

Are you motivated, outgoing, and committed to community development? We’re looking for a values-led part-time Project Manager to join our small but high-output team and continue our work helping build a more social economy in Brixton.

The role will involve overall work and development of the Brixton Pound, with primary responsibility for our non-currency management projects: the Brixton Fund, the Brixton Bonus and managing the Community Investment Scheme at Pop Brixton. The role will also include regular local business engagement.

Download the full job description and person specification

Download the equality and diversity monitoring form

Download the guaranteed interview scheme declaration form

To apply: please send a CV (ideally no more than 2 pages) and covering letter explaining why you are interested and how you would fit the role (ideally no more than 1-2 pages), as well as a completed equality and diversity monitoring form to info (at) brixtonpound (dot) org before 10:00am on 31 May 2016. To apply under the guaranteed interview scheme please also send a completed declaration form.

If you have any questions, please come by the B£ Shop (3 Atlantic Rd, SW9 8HX) or email us at info (at) brixtonpound (dot) org.

#BrixtonBonus – Meet the Winner: Zoe

Zoe Adjonyoh, who runs Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen in POP Brixton, won the March draw of the Brixton Bonus. She joins the small crowd of winners, who are featured in our Winners Gallery – have a look! And make sure you get some Bonus tickets before the next draw on 29th April – who knows, it could be you next time! Better yet, set up a recurring entry to never miss a chance for a Brixton Grand – and get some extra goodies as a reward from us.

B£’s apprentice Dominic had a chat with Zoe about Brixton, her business, and how she plans on spending her B£1,000:

When did you first come to Brixton?

I used to come to Brixton a lot as a kid, when my Dad emigrated from Ghana he lived in Brixton with his Aunt at the time. I grew up in Woolwich but later on when I was a student, Brixton was a good destination to go out for parties.

So what are your favourite things to do in Brixton?

Before I started the business I liked going clubbing and dance nights too but now I don’t have much free time to socialize, so when I do I like to get a cocktail from Seven. I also go into the village when I can to have dinner at Fish Wings and Tings. I also just like walking around Brixton, when I go down into the market I just enjoy chatting to the people in the market.
Brixton is a very vibrant, fun, friendly place and that’s why people want to come here.

What major changes have you seen from when you first came to Brixton to now?

I think Brixton has changed substantially, it used to have a vibe in the 80s and 90s where there was a lot of tension; race politics was a big deal, not just in Brixton but in lots of places across London where there was a strong black community. Race relations with the police weren’t great and it was a period of change for how people addressed those issues, a lot of stuff happened in the 80s politically, not just in Brixton, that forced changes for the better. In my mind Brixton has always been very colourful and live and energetic and that is still true today, but we have seen a migration into Brixton from other parts of London and other parts of the UK: the demographic has changed slightly, there are more people here with more spending power.

Do you think that’s a good or a bad thing?

I think when it’s balanced it’s okay, it’s ok to have new money coming in, but you don’t want that to happen at the expense of the people already living here, which is difficult. What’s great about Brixton is how community minded it is, which is quite rare in London. It thinks of itself as a community, and even people that come into Brixton respect that community and that’s important. Brixton has become a destination for people to go out, eat good food, listen to good music and celebrate all of the colourful things that Brixton provides culturally.

There’s always going to be a downside to “progress” because unfortunately when a destination becomes a popular place to go to, the knock-on effect is that there are rent increases and value of land gets higher, and that prices out a lot of people that have been in Brixton potentially all their life. It links to what’s happening with Brixton Arches, businesses that have been there for 20, 30 years are under threat for financial reasons. And you would hope that some consideration is put into keeping cornerstones of the community alive rather than bulldozing everyone out just to get more money out of residents.

Is it progress? I don’t know, but it’s definitely development which is always going to have controversies surrounding it. What’s great about Pop Brixton is the idea that we are occupying land that was empty beforehand so we haven’t displaced any other businesses or anything else. I think every business in here, especially through the giveback scheme, is really concerned not to be disharmonious with the Brixton community. I in particular want to be part of it, it’s important for me and it’s important for my business. It’s the thing with displacing people in communities in favour of financial gain.

Where did your interest in cooking come from?

I’ve always been curious about food, I’ve always loved eating food and cooking for people and particularly Ghanaian food. My Dad used to come home with traditional Ghanaian ingredients that were mysterious and exotic and I was intrigued and wanted to know more about it and wanted to know how to cook it. It was also a strong link for me back to those cultural roots in Ghana because we didn’t have any Ghanaian relatives in London. Both my parents are immigrants so we were quite a small family and didn’t have any extended family to speak of. We didn’t have access directly to that cultural heritage, so the food was a way in and something that I connected with and it’s just grown and grown.

When did you first decide you wanted to open a restaurant?

I’ve been doing Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen since 2011, I started doing supper clubs, event catering and street food, and we still do all those things. Pop Brixton is our first proper restaurant space.

Did you always plan to open a restaurant from a young age?

No, I never had an ambition to become a cook or a restaurateur or anything like that. It’s been a peculiar journey but an exciting and interesting one. It’s been a very organic process I didn’t decide one day I wanted to do – this just kind of kept happening.

So how did you get into it?

It started one day when I set up a little stall outside my house selling a dish which is basically peanut butter stew or soup which is a Ghanaian dish. I used to cook it a lot for my friends, it’s one of my favourite foods that I ate growing up. So one day when there was a festival going on in my neighbourhood I thought I might be able to make some money and it proved very popular and created a nice social gathering outside my house. People kept coming back and then wanted me to do it again, so the following year I turned my flat into a restaurant, I put in lots of tables and chairs and African fabrics and it had a real restaurant atmosphere. I called it Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen and we sold out every day for three days and were constantly full, people were trying to book and come back but I could not continue like that because it was my living room. I took down people’s email address so that next time, a few months later, I could notify people. From word of mouth it became more frequent and got some press, and then from there I started to be hired for catering and asked to residencies.

What would you say your business offers?

It offers tasty Ghanaian food at affordable prices in a restaurant setting. Our whole concept is about bringing food from Ghana and making it accessible; making as many people as we can possibly reach aware of how great the Ghanaian food and ingredients are, and just about celebrating food culture from Ghana. We do everything we can to support and raise the profile of food from Africa generally and specifically Ghana.

Where did the interest in the Brixton Pound come from and why did you accept it?

When I first got here I was very keen to take the Brixton Pound because I think it’s a great idea, it’s a great way of keeping money in the local economy and encouraging people to shop local, which is something that aligns with my ethos of how I want my business to function and run, and because it was so easily ready and available to sign up I decided to do it!

Do you have any other future plans or projects planned?

I’ve got quite a lot of different projects in the pipeline right now; we have a cookbook coming out in April next year, I’m opening a second space hopefully by the end of the year outside of Brixton. Possibly launch our own brand of sauces and ready meals so people can eat our stuff at home easily. The idea behind opening it here was to test what we do in a restaurant setting and see if it will be a viable business with a view to opening a full restaurant in the next year or two. We are looking at a couple of potential sites for the future so hopefully by next year I’ll be able to open a second space that probably has at least 20 or 30 covers.

What will you do with your Brixton Bonus winnings?

I haven’t decided yet, but I’m sure at some point it will be spent on a staff night out at a local bar or restaurant, and I may also use it to give the team bonuses.

The first local currency cash machine opens in Brixton today

Today we are unveiling the world’s first local currency cash machine! Designed and produced by Kind Studio, it is situated in Market Row and available in the market’s operating hours: 8am – 11:30pm Tuesday to Sunday, and 8am – 6pm on Mondays. Which means you can get your hands on paper B£s at almost any time of the day!

001 The cash machine will aid Brixton Pound in furthering its mission to showcase what a social economy might look like in Brixton, and will give local residents an increased opportunity to spend paper B£s to support these values and imagine a better world. It will also help us achieve our vision – that a different high street is possible.

002

The cash machine is funded by The Mayor’s High Street Fund, and forms part of a wide range of initiatives in Brixton supporting businesses in the town centre. The High Street Fund is helping Brixton and its existing and emerging traders, hand in hand with the innovative Brixton Pound project.

B£’s Tom Shakhli said:

“Our cash machine is the latest in our challenge to the conventional view that we’re moving towards a cashless society, and gives locals and visitors to Brixton an opportunity to experiment with money that celebrates community and creates conversations rather than closes them off.”

If you check it out, let us know what you think! #brixtoncashpoint

003

Brixton Fund: Local Group of the Month – AGT social

Located in Loughborough Junction, AGT Social was set up by Karl and Vicki after running a computer repair clinic at the Lambeth Country Show. They aim to provide much-needed affordable/free IT services to lower income communities as well as offering training, with the aim of increasing social, employment and educational opportunities.

In November 2015, AGT Social received £250 from the Brixton Fund, the Brixton Pound’s local micro-grants scheme. The Brixton Fund is funded by Brixton Bonus ticket sales (our monthly community lottery), sale of B£ merchandise in the Brixton Pound Shop, and a 1.5% business transaction fee on pay-by-text B£ payments. So – whenever you play to win B£1000, grab yourself a snazzy B£ T-shirt or simply do your weekly shop in B£s, you’re helping fund local groups like AGT Social!

Vicki: AGT Social has been incorporated as a social enterprise for nearly three years alongside AGT UK which is our commercial company.

Karl: We are like the one stop shop for people looking to cover their IT requirements. We host websites, run off-site back ups, host cloud conscriptions, all kinds of stuff as well as repairing broken screens installing servers and so forth.

Vicki: Our ethos is that we don’t want to chuck things away. We want to reuse.

Karl: We are very conscious of consumerism and the impact it can have on the planet the economy and the community.

Vicki: And we have a big community we can tap into here. The Lougborough Junction community is crying out for new things, for people to fix their computers and opportunities for apprenticeships and training.

AGT1

Vicki: The idea behind AGT Social came about in the first year you (Karl) were running AGT.

Karl: So I had already set up AGT and I had an idea to promote the business based on a free bike repair clinic I saw one year at Lambeth Country Show. In fact I got my bike repaired there and had to queue up for a long time. I thought: OK, this is a good idea, and wondered, could this work for computer repairs? So the following year I decided to get a pitch at the Country Show.

Vicki: The idea was to set up a free laptop repair clinic for people to be like, oh, who is AGT, maybe if I can’t get my laptop repaired there this time I can phone them up and this would bring business in for us. Purely commercial.

But it was soon apparent that people started to anticipate we would be there for the following year and people that couldn’t afford to get their computers fixed were waiting for the next year to bring them along for something as simple as removing a virus.

That inspired us to turn it into something bigger than an annual laptop repair clinic. It led to us turning it into a social enterprise (AGT Social).

AGT2

Karl: The whole point of AGT Social really, as Vicki said, is to provide trustworthy and affordable services to communities and individuals who may not otherwise be able to access these services. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to go down to the Apple Store and part with £300 to get their computer repaired. Also what you realize is that those who do not have much disposable income are the ones that need their computers most in the first place. To look for jobs, manage finances and communicate with family aboard.

Everything we have done in the arch has been self-funded so far. And that’s been really difficult. We approached Lambeth Council to get some support but didn’t get much and submitted some applications for a few local grants and again we didn’t get anything from that.

Vicki: Even with the Brixton Fund money, we are going to have to raise some more, but it does show that we can be successful in applying for funding. It boosts our own confidence in applying for funding and shows that there are people out there that recognize the value of what we are doing. It means we can now go to other people and get them to help us out in building our training room.

AGT3

Karl: We feel a sense of obligation of pride to not let B£ down and show that their investment, no matter how big or small, was entirely justified. We want to prove that we know what we are talking about and provide solutions.

We have already run some training courses with a few local charities. One of the courses we put on was called IT essentials and it basically was a course designed to give anyone and everyone the confidence to be able to repair a machine. So right from the basics to switching between operating systems, removing viruses and how to diagnose and fault find. Really, we are teaching the logic, not the solution to every problem out there, because that’s impossible. As soon as that student grasps that knowledge, their confidence and ability multiplies. So that’s what we are going to be doing here, running courses for professionals and for people that are looking to improve their skillsets. 

Contact 

For more information on apprenticeships, training and repairs head to over to AGTsocial.uk.net

And for business and personal IT support, AGT.uk.net have got you covered.

 

Brixton public art: Lucy Casson ‘Foxes and Cherries’

‘Foxes and Cherries’ by Lucy Casson  is a sculpture over Electric Avenue, Brixton. It is featured on the B£20 note. This is a guest blog post written by Lucy about what inspired her to make the piece of public art.

foxcherryaziz   B£20 square
Foxes and Cherries on Electric Avenue and as featured on the B£20 

Halfway along Electric Avenue ‘Foxes and Cherries’  is situated high up on a roof. I wanted to make something inspired by the fruit market – cherries are such wonderful fruit, and that year the cherry tree in my garden in Brixton had a bumper crop of cherries, so it had to be cherries; and for me the foxes that live among us represented the cheeky side of Brixton as they dive in and out of sight.

foxworkshop
‘Foxes and Cherries’ in the making

As well as making art works for public places I create smaller works for gallery exhibition.
I have created a world of ‘beings.’ They are cartoon like, part animal, part human. These characters become part of narratives and scenarios gleaned from observations of everyday accuracies, surreal encounters or imagined stories.

Tin Plate Beings
cherries 2  small1  small2
Cherries                                           Fire                                                The Inspectors

animal looking  red ball and spoon
 Animal Looking                                                         Red Ball and Spoon

For the past two and a half years I have been the lead artist for the newly opened New Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool, creating a number of large sculptures, graphics, curtain/glass design, etc. I am currently working on a small sculpture for Brockwell Park.

Works from the New Alder Hey children’s hospital
alderheyfox
  alderyheybirds  bird 100 closeBronze Fox                                     Roost – A Hundred Birds              Bird Close Up

Head over to Lucy’s website for of her work: www.lucycasson.co.uk. To discover other public art featured on B£ notes, click here