Yesterday it was great to attend a pre-launch meeting for people interested in getting involved in Streetclub, a site for people to connect with their neighbours and organise things in their local area. It's only available in Reading at the moment, and only just become a live site as we are the pilot location. When B&Q approached the council I asked that we work with them as I think it's a great opportunity - the slogan for the council this year (and if Labour is re-elected this will continue) has been 'working better with you'. In my portfolio of Housing and Neighbourhoods I've been determined to find ways of supporting local community spirit, so it's been great to work with a socially responsible business on this behind the scenes and I'm looking forward to this going fully public.
If you are interested in signing up the site is here: https://www.streetclub.co.uk/
I've done so and B&Q are offering starter packs including loads of stuff for organising a Jubilee party. Let me know if you have signed up and want to get one and I'll pass your details along.
There will be a lot of press coverage on this in the next few weeks, locally, and probably nationally too.
Below are my speaking notes, which are approximately what I said! It's non political, but as ever my political views about the importance of coming together and community politics influence my views of things.
"I am really pleased to be here today to have the opportunity to talk to you about the Streetclub initiative and to encourage you to get involved.
Reading Borough Council is delighted to be supporting B&Q in piloting the Streetclub concept in the Borough. We think this is an exciting project that has the potential to make a positive impact here in
Reading and, hopefully,
across the UK.
The Council has been working closely with B&Q to develop this pilot. We agreed to get involved because, after early discussions with the company, we feel it will support some of our key priorities around building strong, confident local communities and fostering self-help.
The idea of the Council supporting communities to do things to help themselves was one of the points that came through strongly in our recent Let’s Talk consultations. So Streetclub provides an ideal opportunity to take this forward. This is not about the council retreating from service provision but by working together we can deliver something new that adds to the way our communities work together.
We think it will help local communities by encouraging:
- Neighbour-to-neighbour networking (e.g. organising neighbourhood activities such as street parties or garden tidy-ups).
- Discussions about local issues which matter to people. The site includes a range of interactive tools including voting facilities. I expect and hope that local councillors will get sent casework and have local issues raised through this site!
- Offers and wants. People can share, give away or sell items or services – a cross between ebay and freecycle with the added security of knowing the people you are dealing with.
- Using collective or community buying power to obtain bulk purchase deals (eg a number of neighbours could get together and negotiate a discount for having their gutters cleaned).
I am confident that Streetclub can make a real, positive contribution to communities across the Borough, but it will only work if people like you are prepared to get involved in ‘kick-starting’ the process. That’s where you come in. Please help if you can.
Note - if you follow my twitter feed you might be pleased to note that the photos are pre-haircut :)