Our community is inherently valuable and it reaps many benefits; it provides a safe and supportive home for its residents, and offers a vision of an alternative model of living for single adults of all ages. However, we are aware that with One Housing Group’s (OHG’s) support and commitment to our long-term development, we could do so much more.Below we list some of the ways in which we believe that we could develop our community further with OHG’s support.
We have a strong commitment to equal opportunities and diversity, and a transparent and accessible allocations policy based on social housing principles, with the additional criterion of a commitment to communal living. However, we recognise that we are not experts in this area. With support from OHG we could update our policy to ensure that it is fully in line with relevant legislation, regulations and guidance on best practice. We could also develop an appropriate monitoring arrangement. It is very important to us that vacancies in our home are filled in a fair and transparent way and we would welcome collaboration with our landlord on this issue.
We believe that there are many people who would benefit from the opportunity to live in supportive communal housing. We advertise our vacancies widely, including in local shops and libraries, community centres, and websites such as Diggers and Dreamers, Gumtree, Loot and Spareroom. We choose a broad range of venues and publications to ensure we can access diverse social groups. However, with support from OHG, we believe that we could reach many more people and further improve our diversity. We would welcome the opportunity to develop a referral programme with OHG and/or Islington Council to ensure that individuals from vulnerable groups could have easier access to our vacancies. We anticipate that these could include women’s refuges, drug and alcohol recovery support groups, organisations working with those with mild physical/mental/learning disabilities.
At Islington Park Street we are committed to living more sustainably. As a result of sharing resources between 18 people our individual consumption is significantly reduced. We also attempt to reduce our waste with recycling systems, including our organic waste which we use to nourish our garden plants. However, our vision for sustainability looks far beyond these steps. We believe that we could meet many of our energy needs through alternative energy sources. For example, our south facing roof is the perfect platform for solar power. Our gas central heating consumption is reduced per head through collective living, but with effective roof insulation it would be reduced significantly further. Other ideas include an edible rooftop garden on our flat roof. With support from OHG we could develop all these ideas, and more, to become a positive example of ecologically sustainable community living in central London.
We have a diverse skill set in our community; many of our residents have experience in organising and running workshops on varied topics, from music, performance and photography to bike maintenance, cooking and personal development. In the past, we have organised workshops at our house for different groups. These groups have included LGBT groups, community groups and drama groups. We have also worked with our neighbours at Purley Place (an OHG scheme providing supported accommodation to vulnerable young people with high support needs) to provide music workshops for the residents. We would welcome the opportunity to work in collaboration with OHG to share our skills and to offer more of these types of workshops to a variety of groups and individuals.
Vision of excellence
Our community is a proven model for an alternative way of living. After 39 years, we remain a mixed needs, supportive community operating on social housing principles. Our ongoing success highlights the continued relevance and importance of Patchwork’s original aims. We would love the opportunity to work with OHG to promote this way of living and to use our experience to help support the development of similar schemes.