Our weekly meetings are a joy. Discussions in the round and then we’ll spread the goodness in any and all directions if we are able. Getting the word out is our campaign. Telling this good story is our aim. We’re very pleased that so far we’ve had good press in Stoke. Very pleased. Our mission is hard enough but without local support and reporting it’d be impossible. The Sentinel has done a couple of pieces on the Cultural Squatters (see here & here) and more and more townsfolk are popping in and saying that they’d heard this or heard that and it’s all good, so the vital word of mouth thing is at play too. Words from the radio too. Signal has also helped us out to tell our tale. We’re chuffed.
Things got national. We were double chuffed when we heard that the Guardian wanted to chat about what we’re doing. Gurdian, Sentinel, Signal….. spot the trend anybody?
The piece in the Guardian led to interest from another national big hitter. A major charity got in touch to see if we can get together for mutual benefit. They were keen to pop into one of our regular Thursday meetings to see what they could do for us. What might have perplexed these quite wonderful people was the insistence we find out what it is that we can do for them ! Their resources and influence are massive. By connecting with a local concern such as ours is (for now) they can bring in major players, provide strong foundations, help us build things at a national level. Really open doors for us. Incredibly apt when you know who they are!
The cast of characters at our Thursday get togethers is many and varied. We welcomed Andy from UnLtd who wanted to get a feel for our dealings as Alex is off on maternity leave soon. Their five year commitment means great input and assistance. It’s massively welcome but with respect the featured guests this time were Vanessa and Andy from the hugely renowned national charity organisation (they have 90 shops!) that had been tweaked by the Guardian feature.
As usual there was a brief review of what CC is, does and can do. As usual we agreed that Redeemers are the most important folks to get onboard as we go forward so could these guys, who enlisted a not inexpensive consultant to determine the impact of volunteering on Universal Credit provision, unlock some national partners for us? To do so, and giants such as Nationwide, B&Q, the Co-op and Ikea have called them up, we would need to get our tech up to speed. It’s coming but not this month!
To check their flight or (join the) fight response we reviewed our Values and Guiding Principles document up on the big screen. Ideas and catchphrases flew about – we need to become less of a retail centre, more of a well-being centre – what does a bridge to the real world look like? – we are a living laboratory – we need less tell you what we’re going to do and more show you what we’ve done!
Here’s something we’re going to do! Karen thinks she can set up a ‘diary room’ style station to get some stories recorded. Stories like Shona shooting to prominence as assistant manager or Scott’s C.V being enhanced to the stage where he’d gotten himself an interview for a job next week! These are the things numbers can’t tell you.
We’ll have to wait to see any follow up from our guests gets here. Maybe something of substance will enable me to include their name – I imagine linking them at this stage is premature, so I’ll take cover behind their anonymity at this stage.
The last talking point of the morning was “What happens to the coin when it’s redeemed?” I don’t know why I didn’t make better notes of the resolution. I don’t know why I didn’t make any notes of the resolution! Not long afterwards the question came to me again on Twitter – here