Community groups celebrate the achievements of social activism

Charles Harrison (09 December, 2021)

Activists from the 70s shared how many of the issues of their time are still prevalent today

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Social activists and local Southwark groups met on Monday December 6 to celebrate the incredible things that can be achieved through social action.

The Community Action Network brought together various social activists in Peckham Levels to share their powerful stories.

One of the most fascinating parts of the evening came from SE1 Stories, a group of social activists from the 1970s who came together to share how people in SE1 campaigned for better housing social conditions.

They highlighted how a lot of the same challenges that exist today for social activists were also an issue for activists back when they were campaigning. These included issues such as regeneration – a topic which saw a nationwide protest in October calling for local councils to refurbish existing homes rather than build new ones.

Furthermore, Sari Easton, Social Action and communities’ officer at Community Southwark, and Dario Jade Blake, chair of the Pelican Plus tenant resident association, spoke about the challenges of mobilising tenants to fight for themselves.

This echoed an explosive planning meeting last month regarding the Kingston Estate development, in which residents complained they had not been adequately consulted and the developers stated that residents had been unwilling to work with them.

Kingston Estate infill approved amid emotionally charged planning meeting

Activists on Monday also shared stories of the achievements of their work. For instance, SE1 Stories spoke about Coin Street, a social enterprise community group which promotes local businesses and activities on Southbank, and the Colombo Centre, an SE1-based gym which provides free and affordable sport facilities.

Both of these, they said, would not exist without the work of social activists pushing for them.

Meanwhile, the British Afghan Society spoke about their work in helping facilitate and provide support to Afghan refugees who are waiting to be housed. Their presentation came a few days after Southwark Council called on the government to provide more support for the roughly 200 Afghan refugees in Southwark.

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