Broxtowe Labour Community High Street Hub was opened with great fanfare in January 2019.
Funded by Unite and CWU and decorated and staffed by members and volunteers, it was unique and part of Jeremy Corbyn’s community organising drive.
Local people popped in for food, a cuppa or advice. Lonely, elderly people or the homeless were welcome. We were open five days a week to the public, held our councillor surgeries here, rooted ourselves in people’s day to day lives. We held branch meetings, reading groups, political education talks, coffee for comrades, banner making and fundraising nights and provided a safe space for our youth, women & LGBT+ members. We really used our space.
There was obviously a hope that such community outreach would bear fruit electorally in our key marginal seat, however it was not enough to turn the tide for Labour in December’s General Election.
After a miserable Christmas and New Year, myself, our fundraising officer and our treasurer sat amongst the unused election leaflets, the redundant canvassing returns and dog-eared WARP sheets to debate the tough decision about whether to carry on with the lease or hand the key back for our beloved hub.
But as we sat there wallowing in our collective apathy and anger, despondent at the state of British politics one of our regular users knocked on the door to see if we were open, he needed some food from our Community Larder and a hot cup of tea. We knew our answer. We knew that with this government we were needed more than ever. We knew Broxtowe Labour & Broxtowe Constituency needed the Hub
What we didn’t know was what was coming ahead, we would never have foreseen where we are now. It was one of the best decisions we ever made.
Working in Partnership with the Fire Brigade, GPs, Schools, Care Homes, Domestic Abuse Charities, unions, councils, supermarkets, local businesses, local shops, the hub has delivered:
- 2,200 food parcels
- 934 jacket potatoes
- £250 Co-op vouchers
- 226 recipe/baking bags (we include the recipe and all the ingredients – for example, tuna pasta bake, fruit crumble, pizzas, shortbread biscuits)
- 32 breakfast bags
- 20 pizzas
This has all be made possible through 40 new, energised members and a volunteer bank of over 50 supporters that we call on each day.
We give our food parcels out as an act of solidarity not charity, we stand shoulder to shoulder with groups affected by austerity and institutional cruelty, food poverty, fuel poverty, domestic violence.
They know we, Broxtowe Labour, have their backs.
Our Community Hub shows what is possible with a well-resourced, well-funded local Labour Party (our members now pay the equivalent of 50p a month, topped up with union money). It can make a huge difference to our members and supporters, our campaigning and to the local community.
Our members now have a shared purpose, it builds and strengthens our relationships with each other, providing a common purpose and belonging.
Our aim is to urge the national party, the unions and the wider Labour movement to fund such High Street hubs, to use the Broxtowe Model as the template for what is possible.
We need to re-embed ourselves back in our working class communities after the loss of Labour Clubs and MPs’ offices, to show we are here all year round not just there to offer promises and pledges at election time.
Grassroots activism, community organising, practical acts of socialism – they are all the same thing and all made possible when we build from the ground.
It’s as simple as just doing the right thing for people that need our help and hope, incrementally building a movement. Actively showing what a better society may look like, collectivism not individualism, co-operation not competition and social equality not inequality.
The Broxtowe model is a model of how Labour should and could rebuild and win back our heartlands.
Jane Marshall, Broxtowe CLP