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People Powered Change – Your Square Mile

29 March 2012

This week we’ve been publishing guest blogs from projects we funded 12 months ago under the banner People Powered Change. Today we hear from Your Square Mile’s Paul Twivy.

Launched in October last year, Your Square Mile (YSM) is a citizens’ mutual open to anyone in the UK over the age of 16. It gives inspiration, practical advice and tools to anyone seeking to bring about positive change in their local community. Our annual subscription is £10 but much of advice and tools are free and can be found at

YSM is an action-oriented organisation: “A safety-net, barrier-buster and citizen negotiator” creating happy, healthier communities.

Last year we worked successfully with 16 of the toughest neighbourhoods in the UK achieving tangible results: doubling regular, constructive contact between citizens and the local authorities; increasing from 50 percent to 63 percent of people who feel they can influence local decisions and from 37 percent to 50 percent of people having weekly contact with their neighbours.

One projects we are proud of is the Something for the Summer event – a youth community event completely coordinated by young people. The Cumbrian town of Wigton was one of the first in the UK to have a youth curfew for under 16s in 2004. Young people were not seen in a positive way and were considered a problem rather than a solution. An article about the curfew can be found here.

Sam Massey – A Youth Station Worker, presented an idea of a Youth Community Festival which was chosen as a project that would be taken forward by the community. This involved young people taking the initiative and organising the community event.

Young people in Wigton, Cumbria, took the lead and ran their own youth community festival

YSM helped the young people secure a £500 grant from O2 Think Big. The event was really well received by the community and was backed by Cumbrian MP Rory Stewart. Given how well it was received in the community, the Wigton Youth Station are in the process of planning another youth festival this summer.

YSM now offers member benefits that include the cheapest Street Party, Event and Public Liability Insurance covering all community events and volunteering activities; discounted Community Gardening Kits, Clean-up Kits, printing deals; incentives to use local shops and services.

YSM: Wigton from Your Square Mile on Vimeo.

YSM has been recommended as the central, enabling hub for community activists envisaged by Baroness Newlove and DCLG. We work with Business in the Community on the Business Connectors programme. We partner with OCS, CDF and Locality on Community First and Community Organisers. We play a key role in driving forward People Powered Change.

A YSM neighbourhood will in the future:

  • Educate people on how to be Savvy Citizens
  • Be led by local citizen leaders who are members of the YSM Mutual
  • Have a Community Organiser and Business Connector(s) as expert catalysts
  •  Have a local “Our Square Mile” on-line hub
  • Use our national hub as an exchange to trade ideas with other communities
  • Use YSM as the portal for local volunteering, resource sharing and time-banking

 YSM offers:

  • Proven, tangible success in increasing social capital at a local level
  • Best Practices for getting communities to come together; define, name and own their neighbourhood; generate and action a manageable number of projects
  • A digital platform that presents a host of tools, ideas and inspiration
  • A Citizens’ Mutual, FSA registered, offering a range of tangible member benefits
  • Connection to over 90 voluntary sector partners
  • The ability to bring the Government, Business and Voluntary Sectors together
  • A brand that “does what it says on the tin”, operating at local, regional, national and UK-wide levels, cascading ideas and benefits

Paul Twivy

Founder & CEO -Your Square Mile

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