UK Social Centre Network

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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".[1]

Radical Spaces[edit]

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.[2]

The fledgling network was profiled in 2008, in the pamphlet 'What's This Place?' which was produced as part of the academic project Autonomous Geographies (funded by the ESRC).[3]

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."[4]

List of social centres[edit]

Name Place Address Website
1 in 12 Club Bradford 21 Albion Street http://www.1in12.com/
56a London 56a Crampton Street http://www.56a.org.uk/
Autonomous Centre Edinburgh 17 West Montgomery Place http://www.autonomous.org.uk/
Black Rose Sheffield 268 Verdon Street http://sheffieldsocialcentre.org.uk/the-black-rose-centre/
Blackcurrent Northampton 24 St. Michaels Avenue 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 http://www.cowleyclub.org.uk
Freedom Press London 84b Whitechapel High Street (Angel Alley) http://www.freedompress.org.uk/
Kebele Cultural Project Bristol 14 Robertson Road http://www.kebelecoop.org
Lancaster Resource Centre Lancaster The Basement, 78a Penny St, Lancaster http://www.eco-action.org/lancaster/
London Action Resource Centre London 62 Fieldgate Street http://www.londonarc.org/
Next To Nowhere Liverpool 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/
Black Cat Cafe London 76 Clarence Road http://blackcatcafe.co.uk/
Red and Black Umbrella Cardiff Clifton Street http://redandblackumbrella.squat.net/
Star and Shadow Newcastle upon Tyne Stepney Bank http://www.starandshadow.org.uk/
Sumac Centre Nottingham 245 Gladstone Street, Forest Fields http://www.sumac.org.uk
Warzone Belfast http://www.warzonecollective.com
Wharf Chambers Leeds 23-25 Wharf Street http://www.wharfchambers.org
Map of social centres in the UK in 2006

Evicted Social Centres[edit]

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,[5] Our Bohemia,[6] House of Brag, 195 Mare Street (twice), Offmarket, Ratstar and the Really Free School[7]

Elsewhere in the UK, a list of social centres would include the Free Factory[8] in Bristol, Pleb's College[9] in Oxford, Cwtch Community Centre[10] in Swansea, the Peoples Autonomous Destination (PAD)[11] and Gremlin Alley[12] in Cardiff, the George’s X Chalkboard in Glasgow,[13] Matilda[14] in Sheffield, the Mill Road Social Centre[15] in Cambridge, Sabotaj[16] in Brighton, Justice not Crisis and the Birmingham social centre.[17]

Other past non-squatted social centres have included the Forest in Edinburgh, the Basement in Manchester[18] and the Common Place[19] in Leeds.

Occasional social centres[edit]

There are groups which choose to do temporary squatted events lasting a fixed time. Such groups may exist for years, such as A-Spire (Leeds), Temporary Autonomous Arts (London, Sheffield, Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff), Anarchist Teapot (Brighton), Wildcats (Brighton) or the OKasional Cafe[20] (Manchester).

References[edit]

External links[edit]