Michelle Baharier raised concerns about the ongoing dispute she has with CoolTan Arts and how she felt that she wasn’t being supported by the local Voluntary and Community Sector. She was keen to publicise a meeting that she has arranged at the Draper TRA Hall and wanted support publicising this.
Hamish raised a question about whether there was currently a support network for Southwark residents who were disabled or suffering from mental health issues who were at risk of changes to the Freedom Pass allocation. Hamish informed the group that other London boroughs were changing the categories that defined what type of pass people would receive.
There was a broader discussion around how smaller groups and organisations share information about the services that they provide. This came off of the back of the group talking about the introduction of Personal Independence Payments and whether there was adequate support for people trying to access the new system. There was an acknowledgement that smaller organisations that provide support need more help in being referred to.
A question was raised as to what citizen-led initiatives were going on in Camberwell. It was felt that there are plenty of examples as to what was happening around Southwark but a lack of knowledge amongst the group as to what was happening in Camberwell (aside from the SE5 Forum). It was suggested that Camberwell suffers from an overpopulation problem which is exacerbated by a lack of infrastructure. There has also been a reduction of free community spaces in Camberwell over the past few years.
This last point led into the group to consider how existing space (such as TRA halls) could be used better. It was felt that it is often expensive to hire these spaces. However, an example of an innovative approach to subsidising free activities at the halls was offered that is taking place in Chelsea. They are hiring out their hall to a theatre production company who pay to put on performances. This income is then used to offset the cost of events for the community. There is no reason why this approach can’t be used in Camberwell.
Another aspect of the discussion around the lack of free community spaces led to a question about what empty former retail/commercial/council spaces are currently available in Camberwell (the old library was suggested as one) and whether these could be utilised by ‘pop up’ type initiatives such as the PemPeople shop on Peckham High Street.
The last discussion considered how to generate more interest in SouthwarkCAN and what it should look like going forward. As has been echoed in other meetings from around the borough it was suggested that each meeting has a ‘headline’ discussion topic to attract people. It was also suggested that CAN meetings could be a place where citizen-led initiatives get linked in to existing organisational networks so that they garner more attention and support. They should also be a space that allow ideas to flourish but, once those ideas have been formed, it should be decided where best to take them ie to the council, to organisations, or to the community.
Establish whether Southwark has any plans to change the way it classifies freedom passes for disabled people or people with mental health issues.
There are various points of discussion that can be fed into the new ‘Camberwell Vision’ that is being created by the SE5 Forum. These include the lack of things to do in Cambwerwell, the lack of multi-purpose community spaces, a rethinking of how to use TRA halls, and whether there should be a comprehensive review of empty retail/commercial spaces that could be utilised by the community. We will arrange a meeting with SE5 Forum to discuss this and see how we can take some of these issues forward.
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