From Football to Leisure Community Ownership
Co-Operative Alternatives Tiziana O'Hara (Left) at the Community Shares Workshop.

From Football to Leisure Community Ownership

18 March 2014

The fifth and final workshop looking at an exciting new ways for communities to take control of their environments recently took place at one of Belfast’s landmark community buildings.

Hosted by Co-Operative Alternatives, and concentrating on community owned projects in sports and leisure, the workshop took place on March the 13th, at Clifton House.

Commissioned by the Building Change Trust, Co-Operative Alternatives have been implementing a Community Shares pilot project in Northern Ireland.

Speakers included some high profile figures from the UK mainland including Steve Hassall from Salford Community Leisure and Dave Jones from the Wrexham Supporters Trust.

This was the last in a series of ‘Community Owned: Community Shared’ events, hosted by Co-Operative Alternatives, looking at five major ways in which communities can take ownership of spaces and services within their community and manage them for community benefit.

The five key areas covered have been community buildings and heritage, community rural shops, community supported agriculture, community owned energy, with this final workshop looking at community sport and leisure.

The workshops have showcased how community shares schemes have been employed to enhance the financial viability of projects across the UK, enabling community ownership.

Tiziana O’Hara from Co-Operative Alternatives, said: “Community Shares represent a new and exciting way for people within communities to invest in them. Communities can engage with an initiative by buying a share in it.

“I meet activists and campaigners who are concerned about the closure of community spaces, the decline of services and the uncertainty of jobs.

“Community Shares open up the possibility of community ownership and enables all of us, collectively, to support initiatives that carry the most social value to our community.

“These types of initiatives are becoming more and more popular across the UK. The regeneration of Hastings Pier, is the most high profile example of this type of community-led action”.

Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust, Director of Operations, said: “The Building Change Trust is committed to developing and testing out new forms of Social Finance and encouraging Social Innovation in Northern Ireland.

“With this in mind, we are really excited to be working alongside Co-Operative Alternatives to bring a Community Shares programme to Northern Ireland.

"Seeing the success in the rest of the UK, we feel this type of community buy-in and investment could really take off”.