A community-owned hub for Blackbird Leys
Anyone who knows Blackbird Leys will tell you that the community is buzzing with energy and ideas. Look beyond the usual negative stories and you’ll find hundreds of examples of how residents reach out to support each other and co-create local solutions for local issues.
But the spaces and places for local citizens to come together to organise, design and deliver in Blackbird Leys are few and far between. This is a real problem and an obstacle to collaboration and sustainability for communities that are already facing significant inequalities.
Alongside this, there has been a stop and start process around plans to redevelop the City Council-run Blackbird Leys Community Centre. Many groups have moved out and right now there is a lot of underused space.
In this context, Owned by Oxford has been collaborating with partners in Blackbird Leys to explore how community enterprises can increase their access to affordable workspaces.
Alongside all the Owned by Oxford partners the organisations engaged include:
Currently in the Jack Argent room in the community centre, the larder opens weekly on Wednesday’s 2pm to 5pm.
Blackbird Leys African Caribbean Community Market – being set up by Transition Lighthouse
Oxford Hub have an office in Blackbird Leys community centre and run a variety of programmes in the area including Active Reach, Blackbird Leys Community Fund and Community Impact Zone.
Some of the ideas we’ve explored so far:
Installing a temporary workspace module that could be on a vacant site in Blackbird Leys for a period of 2-5 years, then relocated. This could provide high quality and appropriate working and community space at affordable rates in the heart of the estates, especially while the Community Centre is being redeveloped.
Taking an unused building into community ownership such as the Bullnose Morris pub which has been closed since September 2020. This could create a “meanwhile” community hub, with space for trading, a cafe and market
Most recently, Owned by Oxford partner Makespace have refurbished one of the unused offices in the Community Centre. Dubbed The Oasis.
Envisioned as a base where the OBO team can ‘presence place’ in the community, the OBO Oasis is a space to enable interaction, exploration and experimentation.
“In co-creating the ObO Oasis with local tradespeople, team members and other inspiration drawn through all the community liaison work I do, I am of the firm conviction that bespoke, custom-designed spaces can reflect the community centres of tomorrow – not the future, now!”Dianne Regisford – Communties Advocate for Owned by Oxford
Get in Touch
Are you interested in getting involved? Do you have ideas for what this could look like? Then get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org