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The Birmingham Social Centre

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The Birmingham Social Centre

Post  Admin on Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:20 pm

10 Ivy Road, B30 2NX Birmingham, United Kingdom

A site for the grass roots social centre in Birmingham

With the economic recession, missed investments by the authorities and economic uncertainty due to a 15-year long Tesco planning site, Stirchley has become famous for its empty-shop high street rather than its community or heritage. Stirchley is not alone however; there are 17,000 empty buildings in Birmingham alone!

We believe empty space is not a burden but a great opportunity! With the Birmingham Social Centre we want to recycle unused space to set a sign against waste and give back to the community in which we have grown up or been welcomed in.

We see that there is a lively local community and precious local businesses in Stirchley that would be under threat from the construction of another ASDA, the third major supermarket in the area. Right next to their proposed building site we want to show with the opening of a social centre that there is an alternative to and in fact no need for another multinational corporation. We believe that it is not corporate money we need to rebuild Stirchley, but creativity, dedication and passion.

What we aim to do

The Whit Marley Building is an old factory that has been left empty for a number of years and is slowly deteriorating. Buildings like this are part of Birmingham’s heritage and one of our intentions is to preserve its history by looking after it.

We are currently doing up the building to create public spaces that can be used for free. These include the huge warehouse spaces, working and meeting rooms. With its independent character and exciting atmosphere the place has so far attracted a number of artists that have started to turn a wet and dark abandoned building into a welcoming and colourful place that we invite everyone to come and visit or take part in!

While we have started to establish a free shop, a free library and a free school to share resources and skills, none of the spaces are fixed in their use. We are open to any ideas and have so far been approached by people who would like to run a bike-workshop, dancing lessons, art exhibitions, holiday games for kids and music lessons/open mic sessions! Contact us for anything you would like to do!

Who we are

Some of us are university students, some of us are teachers or lecturers and others have local jobs.

We all have strong political convictions; we disagree with the price tag that has come with education, making it accessible only to the few. We oppose the government plans to raid viable and profitable pensions and public services to give money to the rich, and we pressure the multinational corporations benefitting from rapid globalisation and exploitation to pay their fair share. We are tired of living in times and a country where the whims of media barons are given more attention by governments than ordinary people. We want change and if you think like us come join us.

The legal side

We know that “squatting” has attracted a very negative social stigma over the past years and also that the government is currently trying to remove squatters’ rights by putting in new legislation. We are opposed to both of these developments as we believe that unused space should not be wasted if it could be turned into something beneficial, such as housing or community services. We do not intend to cause any trouble to the owners of the property and as the legal occupiers are happy to sign an order of consent that promises our leaving if official planning permission has been given to develop the site.


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