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‘A narrative is more than a story’… the final blog post

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Each club, each individual, every person that has attended an event or an ideas lab, they each have their own story. The plan is to collect these stories and make a book, part of the series of ‘The Community Lovers Guide to the Universe’ watch out for this early next year.
I cannot remark or comment on their stories, I cannot even judge how well they have achieved as each person begins their own SE-Village journey from a different starting line. I cannot tell you other people’s stories for fear of doing them an injustice and of removing their voice by speaking on their behalf. Instead I will find a way for them to share their own tale. However, in this final NESTA-related blog post I will talk about our story, the wider narrative, the bigger picture, the bit where all those stories take the shape of a beautiful kaleidoscope – the view when you look through the prism of not one or two personal views but when you join the stories in the centre and the view looks as colourful and chaotic as everything we have experienced this year.

The tale of SE-Village…

We saw ‘a good idea’ become a reality, the plan was to remove barriers that stop people from contributing and find new ways to engage local people in doing what they wanted to do. It was not a question of empowering, we don’t have the power. It was not a project of social action, we were doing our best not to act. Instead it was more a principle of social-inter-action and enabling people to engage with each other around activities that they loved. SE-Knit and Natter, SE-Samba, SE-Balloons – they are what they say on the tin, I love this, you might love this and we’ll love being together.

Most people like me, an activist, a ‘doer’, we like to start up stuff that we think is needed and people will enjoy. I laugh when people talk about ‘hard to reach’, ‘difficult to engage’, ‘never getting access’, even ‘poverty of aspiration’ is a ironically humorous statement to me now, because I don’t believe that any of these things are true. I think we try and fit people into the boxes that we think they should be in, less cryptically, I think we should stop having ideas and start having questions. A number of our SE-Village projects said that they never would have thought to start their own anything had someone not asked them what they might want to do if they could, what are their dreams, what are their passions. The right questions cannot be bottled, they could never be put in a questionnaire, they are part of what we call ‘the long conversation’ – the conversation that importantly doesn’t end. Our principles of social-interaction apply to us too (us being those behind the desks being paid for what we love!). We aim to start conversations, to meet new friends, to go out of the places we normally inhabit or to stay in them and ask the questions that we love to talk about. We take out our pimped-out sofa to attract attention and provide a space, wherever we are, for the start of the long conversation. In my experience about 40% had instant ideas and of these 20% believed they could act on it at the start of the conversation, 60% wouldn’t know the answers, what did they care about besides living their life day by day? Difficult. It is a pleasure to me to see so many of those that started in that 60% the ‘unusual and disbelieving’ starting up their own clubs, groups, courses, businesses and/or going to other people’s, having fountains of ideas and encouraging others that they can get their idea off the ground. Community Lovers BLISS!

SE-Village now requires mainly coaches, connectors, side-kicks, hype guys and gals. Most people just need the support and confidence and sometimes a few extra skills to make their passions a reality and why? Because it is their passion, or their violation – whatever sparked their motivation, it is THEIRS, not ours! Many people when they first started saying things they would like to see, wrote them down as if they were filling out a form, petitioning us to produce it for them, now we are hosting crowd-funding events where they are petitioning people to vote for them, so that they can start their club with a backing of time credits and man hours and money. They plan, they pitch, they build.

Our SE-Village slogan is ‘Dream your village, See your village, SE-Village’ – we don’t pretend we are anything but a host, a simple platform, a stomping ground. We provide support from the bottom and we see others get to the top, a remarkable and rewarding space to be in. The only thing we create ‘in-house’ is the events that we put on, these gather people and connect them, a source of all good communities is celebration and fun. I pride myself that we start the symphony, which is only the beginning of a dramatic ensemble – ‘The sounds of our community’.

The ‘good idea’ became a remarkable one, because of the all the people that have made it what is is now. We are running out of space, out of coaches and mentors but for each challenge has been a creative solution – Peckham Pounds, partnerships, parties to name only three. In our community we have a lot of assets and if someone tells me that we don’t, I tell them they need to look harder, or better still, start just one long conversation. John Donne ‘No man is an island’ is right, but people can be if they don’t know who cares that they are not or who else they are responsible to. We are committed to changing this.

I would like to see Peckham over run with change-makers, those living in the impossibility and chaos of their dreams and seeing them become real. I would like to see people knowing that there is always someone else that cares about what they can contribute.

This is the narrative that binds us – weaving together every individual story into the rich tapestry that has made our impossible dream begin to become a reality. This narrative will last longer than any individual story, even our own!

Thank you to NESTA and The Big Lottery for getting behind us in the way we want to get behind others.

By Ann-Marie Yiannis

(Community and Programmes Manager at The Peckham Settlement)

Written by sevillps

March 28, 2012 at 9:39 am

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Coverage on SouthwarkTV

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Written by sevillps

March 13, 2012 at 9:56 am

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In the news again

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SE-Village Peckham Pounds, community celebration and crowdfunding makes the news

Written by sevillps

March 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm

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Making headlines in Peckham!

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Written by sevillps

March 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm

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Big Objectives Met for Big Celebration

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We had some big objectives for our final celebration event on SE-Village. These were

  • To celebrate completion of the pilot phase
  • Affirmation of everything all the SE-Villagers have achieved
  • Connecting SE-Villagers together with each other (project leaders and other stakeholders)
  • Trial a crowd-funding event
  • Re-launching the new phase and getting the news out and getting more publicity about the project out/inviting the press

As a celebration the event was fantastic. There was a real party atmosphere driven by everything from the Caribbean buffet to the blind pianist Peter to the kids’ sumo suits! Here is some of the feedback people wrote on post-its as they were leaving:


“An amazing night, loved every second, this is our village” “ditto”

“Great. Very inspiring”

“Nice to meet people from the local community”

“Excellent nite. Go community spirit! Its ALIVE here!”

“Great event! Shows what Peckham is made of…”

“It was very enjoyable and a great way to involve the local community in what’s going on at the centre”

“What a wonderful time I had. It was very nice. Thanks a lot”

“I really enjoy this event, everything is excellent”

“Thanks. It was great. My daughter had a good time. Made lots of contacts and met so many nice people.”

“An excellent evening and great fun watching the presentations and voting. Lovely food too. Thank you!”

“The event was wonderful as usual – looking forward to the next one already.”

Organisationally, we did really well. The event was well-organised by Vanessa who was really on top of all the different bits of the puzzle. We were fantastic at getting new faces along, which the team were briefed to do. It would actually have been nice to have a few more of the clubs present so next time we still need to work on the balance between audience and projects at an event. However, what was good was that a number of project leaders came just to enjoy the event and not to pitch. For us, we think it is fantastic to see people engaged with the community and joining in without an agenda! Hopefully, seeing other projects win prizes at an event like this may also have helped reinvigorate their own hopes and aspirations for their own projects.

In terms of affirmation, we definitely achieved that for the projects who went for nominations, but not necessarily for those who just attended the event or didn’t attend at all. For the overall winner, Olive, being able to stand up and pitch really built on everything she had practised at the recent ‘Winning Hearts and Minds’ SE-Workshop.

The nomination approach worked really well for getting people to connect and talk to each other (everyone had 2 nomination stickers each). We had 7 projects looking for nominations, and the ones that did best had arrived early, had leaflets or other information to look at, and had mobilised some support themselves (bringing friends and family), as well as working hard to engage people at the event. Because we got a broader audience there than just SE-Village that worked really well too for wider connections. Some of the projects, like SE-Village Stars, had their own contact sheets so hopefully they will be able to follow up some new connections. One of our feedback quotes was “Thank you for organising this event; enabling me to network with others and meet with new friends. Also finding out more about what is going on in the local community.”

The trial of crowd-funding worked really well. People were enthusiastic and the winners were really pleased with the prize package we put together (P£ plus £ from RESTORE-Peckham plus free book from Octopus publishing plus free membership to PVSF and for the overall winner a marketing course with PVSF. Having seen that it was possible to get donations following the community elders event, we were inspired to have a go with other partners and stakeholders. The donations from PVSF came because they ‘owed’ Peckham Settlement some timecredits for a volunteer working with them, so we did a deal on those. RESTORE have been a long-standing partner throughout the pilot phase and were happy to match fund. We phoned Octopus publishing and asked for copies of the Levi Roots business book ‘You can get it if you really want’, focussing on the South London and entrepreneurship angles. We also asked Greggs for a discount on 150 cupcakes for the event because we couldn’t afford the full amount but we wanted to support them because one of their stores was burned down in Peckham in the August riots. They then offered them for free, which was really amazing!

However, Pitch your Project was a bit confusing for some. The nominations and then later vote aspect was simple to explain, but when people are in a rush to enter the event and/or quickly filling an attendance sheet, its hard to listen. Plus some attendees were older and it was all too much new information. Next time it may be a good idea to remove the nominations stage and just have the pitching/voting – however, if we drop nominations for the sake of simplicity then we have to find other ways to enhance connectivity. It also raises the question of how the choice is made about who pitches.

The big question is whether this approach to crowd-funding would work if we ask people to part with hard cash, rather than P£ which we had given them… We believe to some extent that depends on the persuasiveness of the project pitches, so for future events they should definitely practise/be coached more on their pitches.

In terms of re-launching the new phase, because funding is still up in the air, this was more of a closure of the pilot and a promise not to let support collapse despite some of the team leaving – there was some anxiety from projects “I’m just getting started and getting some momentum, I hope you’ll still be able to support me!”

Ahead of the event, we got in the South London Press following top tips from a volunteer mentor on how to do a press release. We also posted the event on PVSF and Southwark website, as well as Peckham Settlement Facebook (but not SE-Village, we need a better approach/training in using social media better). We have sent out a post event press release to South London Press, Southwark News, Evening Standard and The Metro and are waiting to see if there is a response – to date SLP have interviewed the project manager and we may get coverage in this Friday’s edition, they also want to interview the overall event winner which could help publicise their project – watch this space!

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Written by sevillps

February 29, 2012 at 9:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

PRESS RELEASE: Peckham Community backs Mental Wellbeing Project

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Issued: 27 February 2012

For Immediate release

SE-Village celebrated the success of their community projects on Friday at their Big Celebration and Pitch your Project event which saw community members enjoying a curry buffet while their children bounced around in Sumo suits, and everyone enjoyed cupcakes donated by Greggs.

SE-Village is run by local charity The Peckham Settlement on Goldsmiths Road. The programme offers an opportunity for people in Peckham to set up their own projects in a low risk, low cost space. Anyone with a great idea for a business or enterprise, social club or group can get support and advice from the team at SE-Village.

At Friday’s event, 7 projects ranging from balloon design to wealth workshops competed for nominations from the crowd. The three most popular projects with the most nominations got to take the microphone and had 5 minutes to Pitch their Project to everyone attending. The crowd voted for their favourite using the newly launched Peckham Pounds.

Winner Olive Lewis who runs SE-Re-Mind, a mental wellbeing project, got the most votes from the crowd on the night for her pitch, taking home P£69 Peckham Pounds. Olive can use Peckham Pounds to pay for volunteers to help her on her project, or to pay for space in The Peckham Settlement community building. SE-Village partner RESTORE-Peckham kindly matched Olive’s Peckham Pound winnings with £69 Sterling. Olive also won a marketing course donated by PVSF, as well as the Levi Roots business book ‘You can get it if you really want’, donated by Octopus Publishing. Olive said “I’m still floating, I can’t believe I won, I just need to really make this project happen now”.

Runners up Laura James of SE-Village Stars, an after school tutoring club and SE-African Market also won Peckham Pounds matched with Sterling by RESTORE-Peckham, free membership to PVSF and the donated Levi Roots book.

Project Manager Lyla Adwan-Kamara said “this community crowd-funding event was a really fantastic example of the community supporting each other. Not only were the prizes donated, we also had entertainment for free from the amazing blind pianist Peter Caesar. Southwark TV as well as volunteer photographers, videographers, and helpers on the door also came along to support us and Baker Greggs very kindly donated 150 cupcakes which were quickly eaten up as they were so delicious!”

To find out more about SE-Village or to share your project idea, get in touch on

See for a short film about the Big Celebration


Notes to Editor:

Lyla Adwan-Kamara, Project Manager: SE-Village, The Peckham Settlement. 07878 827 801

Available for interview

Photos are free to use if used with this press release. High res images are available here:

Captions are:

SE Village 010 SE Village staff Vanessa O’Driscoll and Archie Utley

SE Village 021 The buffet at SE Village’s Celebration

SE Village 032 Exhibitors and visitors at SE Village’s celebration

Please credit: Photo by Julian Jackson

Written by sevillps

February 29, 2012 at 8:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Working with young and old in February!

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Two more events this month at SE-Village, the first was a youth-focussed Ideas Lab where Chris and Rachel from Urban Youth Charity kindly gave up their time to come and share their wisdom with SE-illage project leaders. This was followed a few days later by a hub event for community elders, bringing together 3 separate pensioners’ groups.

First, our Youth Ideas Lab was well received by all who attended. They discussed the rewards and challenges of working with young people and got top tips on some of the practical issues such as Safeguarding. Chris and Rachel from XLP were fantastic, bringing a lot of laughter in to the session, for example when Chris got covered in scarves to represent some of the challenges young people face in their lives. Their key message really fit in with the philosophy of SE-Village, that it is about developing relationships and empowering people to make their own decisions, and that change is subtle – we’re not knights on white horses!

It would have been great if more project leaders hoping to work with youth had attended, but there has been a lot of activity this month. In the future we should consider putting together some top tips on working with youth which we can share with project leaders, and we needed to build even more time into the session for projects to mingle and share experiences.

Next the community elders hub event was a roaring success! The turnout was amazing with 23 pensioners and 10 volunteers. This included BEGS (Black Elderly Group Southwark) based on Bellenden Road who came to meet the Monday and Friday Pensioners’ Clubs (who don’t normally mix!) based at Peckham Settlement.

Getting the event organised was a fantastic example of community spirit with food and drinks donated by Asda Peckham Rye and meat donated by local butcher Dennis. Janet, SE-Village Outreach Worker who got these donations organised said “There is no magic formula as such, I just talked about the benefit of being recognised as a key sponsor for the event and what this would mean to the Pensioners.”

BEGS volunteers and two of our SE-Villagers worked for hours the night before to prepare food and Janet said “they worked so well together and could not ask for a nicer set of women to work with.”

The feedback from the Pensioners was an over whelming “more please!” Many expressed they would not normally have the opportunity to make new friendships and found the new conversations exciting. They loved the chocolate prizes and enjoyed reminiscing.

“I found the event really interesting, I enjoyed meeting new people.”

“It was nice and easy to talk to everyone, and I liked moving from table to table to having new conversations. When I got home remembered all the things I should have said. I loved the salmon and how it was prepared, I want the recipe from the volunteer Geraldine. I’m from the Monday club and I’ve never meet the Friday club but while shopping in Peckham I bumped into someone from the Friday club, so I’ve made some new friends since the event. Thank You”

BEGS would love to do more work with the Peckham Settlement Pensioners and do regular reminiscence work.

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Written by sevillps

February 29, 2012 at 8:41 am

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