On the 8th of November 2011, we left the Whitmarley, which has been the first home of “the Birmingham social centre project”. The project through is much more than the building, it is the concept, community and people that have formed around it.
In easter, months before we started the project we set out these as the reasons “we”, then a bunch of students who had been organising on campus should create a squatted social space.
“Squats or free spaces have great history many have gone on host a wealth of unique exchanges and become centres of local and national activism by becoming centres for travelling plays, parties, music, cinema, talks, debate and workshops.
The spaces by their nature attract local residents, local activists and often create exchanges and meeting points that result in strong communities actively pursuing their civil power and asserting control over their own lives.
These communities that can grow can attract people growing up in the city and studying as students and activists to stay in the city after graduation and contribute positively too many causes…rather than as they become more involved just move to places were these communities exist like Oxford, Bristol, Brighton or London.
Birmingham is Britain’s youngest city, it also the city with the highest youth unemployment, the largest council cuts, and the most abandoned buildings and the highest rate of homelessness. Basically I think Birmingham is exactly where we should be.This city should be hotbed of alternative discourse, social empowerment and people forcing of change.”
These reasons hold as true now as they ever did, we are no longer an isolated, student campaign, stuck in bubble. We have built links with a wider community that will allow our movement and ideals that we are fighting for to become more entrenched and permanent. However in future I think we must think bigger, the social centre was to small, we couldn’t cater for all. Homelessness is spiralling out of control in Birmingham as is unemployment; we must take a space that is not limited by its size. For when skyscrapers are sitting empty and when 1/3 young people in the UK’s youngest city the city are stuck in unemployment the possibility for a creative radical politicizing space is endless.