UK Social Centre Network
The UK Social Centre Network is a grass roots initiative to establish a network between self identified radical independent community social centres in the United Kingdom. There is no single policy statement but a general desire to improve communication and co-operation between the growing number of autonomous spaces "to share resources, ideas and information".
Self selected participants draw a clear distinction between their radical autonomous spaces on one side and the state or large NGO sponsored community centres on the other. While there has been something of a tradition of social spaces in occupied buildings (also known as squatting), recent years have seen an upsurge in the creation of social centres in rented or purchased buildings. The network of social centres in the UK is very much in its infancy compared to some other places in Europe such as Holland, Italy and Spain, although it can trace its roots back to the autonomy clubs of the 1980s such as Centro Iberico, Wapping Autonomy Centre and the still extant 1 in 12 Club in Bradford.
Paul Chatterton and Stuart Hodkinson view social centres as part of the "broader 'autonomous movement,'" playing an "important role in the re-thinking and re-making 'citizenship' by bringing people together in spaces whose very raison d'etre is to question and confront the rampant individualism of everyday life."
|1 in 12 Club||Bradford||21-23 Albion Street, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 2LY||http://www.1in12.com/|
|56a||London||56a Crampton Street, Walworth SE17 3AE||http://www.56a.org.uk/|
|Autonomous Centre||Edinburgh||17 West Montgomery Place EH7 5HA||http://www.autonomous.org.uk/|
|Black Cat Cafe||London||76 Clarence Road||http://blackcatcafe.co.uk/|
|Blackcurrent||Northampton||24 St. Michaels Avenue, NN1 4JQ||http://www.blackcurrentcentre.org.uk|
|Bradford Centre for Nonviolence||Bradford||2 Ashgrove||http://www.treehousecafe.org|
|Casa / Initiative Factory||Liverpool||29 Hope Street||http://www.initfactory.gn.apc.org/|
|Cowley Club||Brighton||12 London Road, BN1 4JA||http://www.cowleyclub.org.uk|
|Freedom Press||London||84b Whitechapel High Street (Angel Alley), E1 7ZX||http://www.freedompress.org.uk/|
|Kebele Cultural Project||Bristol||14 Robertson Road, B55 6JY||http://www.kebelecoop.org|
|London Action Resource Centre||London||62 Fieldgate Street, E1 1NS||http://www.londonarc.org/|
|Newport Action Centre||Newport (South Wales)||c/o 125 Lower Dock Street, Pill, Newport NP20||http://network23.org/nac|
|Next To Nowhere||Liverpool||Basement, 96 Bold Street, Liverpool, L1 4HY||http://www.liverpoolsocialcentre.org|
|Oxford Action Resource Centre||Oxford||Upstairs in the East Oxford Community Centre, Princes St (junction with Cowley Rd), Oxford OX4 1DD||http://theoarc.org.uk/|
|Red and Black Umbrella||Cardiff||57-58 Clifton Street, Adamsdown CF24 1LS||http://redandblackumbrella.squat.net/|
|Star and Shadow (Canny Little Library)||Newcastle upon Tyne||http://cannylittlelibrary.tumblr.com/||http://www.starandshadow.org.uk/|
|Subrosa||Manchester||27 Lloyd Street South, Moss Side, M14 7HS||http://manchestersocialcentre.org.uk|
|Sumac Centre||Nottingham||245 Gladstone Street, Forest Fields, NG7 6HX||http://www.sumac.org.uk|
|Warzone||Belfast||Little Victoria Street, Belfast, County Antrim BT2 7JH||http://www.warzonecollective.com|
|Wharf Chambers||Leeds||23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EQ||http://www.wharfchambers.org|
Evicted Social Centres
Examples of long-term squatted and now evicted projects would include the Spike Surplus Scheme and the 491 Gallery. Other past squatted centres in London have included the Bank of Ideas, RampART, Peckham, Our Bohemia, and Ratstar. Some social centres occurred in a number of times and/or locations such 195 Mare Street, Offmarket and the Really Free School
Elsewhere in the UK, a list of social centres would include the Free Factory in Bristol, Pleb's College in Oxford, Cwtch Community Centre in Swansea, the Peoples Autonomous Destination (PAD) and Gremlin Alley in Cardiff, the George’s X Chalkboard in Glasgow, Matilda in Sheffield, the Mill Road Social Centre in Cambridge, Sabotaj in Brighton, Justice not Crisis, the Birmingham social centre and most recently, Free Milk! (Platt Chapel) in Manchester.
There are groups which choose to do temporary squatted events lasting a fixed time. Such groups may exist for years, such as the House of Brag (London), A-Spire (Leeds), Temporary Autonomous Arts (London, Sheffield, Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff), Anarchist Teapot (Brighton), Wildcats (Brighton) or the OKasional Cafe (Manchester).
Future Network projects
Proposals for action by the Network include:
- Working together on a new publication
- A new website to promote spaces and events
- Better European networking of Social Centres and twinning of Social Centres
- Another gathering in 6 months in the North of England
Proposals for ongoing discussion include:
- Conflict resolution, disputes and safer spaces policies and practice
- UK-wide support for Social Centres
- LARC website on Social Centre Network
- 'Autonomy Centres, Riots and the Big Rammy' in SMILE Magazine issue 12, 1994
- Stories from radical social centres in the UK and Ireland
- Hodkinson, S. and Chatterton, P. (2006). "‘Autonomy in the city? Reflections on the social centres movement in the UK’". City 10 (3): 305–315. doi:10.1080/13604810600982222.
- 'NEWS UPDATE - a longer closure than expected'
- Advisory Service for Squatters
- Autonomous London
- Social Centres Network
- Social Centre Network E-list
- Indymedia UK - Free Spaces section
- Social Centres Gathering, November 2014