“A Community Meeting Manifesto” by Amanda Wood

Dear Colleagues,
I wanted to draw your attention to the  attached report I have co-authored to Home Office in response to their “Refreshed Approach”.

The Ahmun and Wood Review, commissioned by Blaksox and the Choices Consortium in response to this “Refreshed Approach”, argues that the critical lessons learned from the Peer Reviews have not been disseminated by the Home Office. For example, authentic community engagement and asset development were repeatedly highlighted as vital to any future strategy by over 100 Peer experts who conducted the EGYV Local Authority reviews from 2012-2016.  These spanned more than 40 local areas, cost in excess of £10 million and involved the organizing of more than 10,000 group and individual interviews with communities and locally based professionals.

The Expert Peer Review Team, selected from across the UK, all agreed that in order to ensure there was no re-occurrence of the widespread unrest that took hold of the country in the summer of 2011, communities would need to be meaningfully engaged and enabled to build resilience in the face of ongoing cuts to vital services. Shockingly, this fundamental message has been overlooked in the Home Office’s “Refreshed Approach” and was never wholly given the care, respect or attention it deserved under EGYV.

It seems we are never more than one inflammatory incident away between police and community, from further unrest. For this reason, it is more important than ever that authentic community and social action models, that embrace a holistic public health approach to reducing violence and unrest are developed. In addition, that Theresa May work with The Mayor of London, and leaders from other affected cities to make the promise of improved community inclusion, engagement and capacity building a reality.

The models highlighted in the “Refreshed Approach” do nothing to bridge the gulf between communities and the establishment, leaving power-vacuums created and endorsed by the absence of genuine community leadership that lead to violence and unrest.

We can only hope that the current climate of rising violence and community tension prompts those in Government to seriously reflect on the recommendations within the Ahmun and Wood Review, and create policies that reflect this approach to reform. The consequences of ignoring these issues may be catastrophic.

“A Riot is the Language of the Unheard”
Martin Luther King

Amanda Wood
Founder and Director – Safe Innovation Projects

View .pdf report here