Alumna Dot Kirk-Adams tells her career story since studying in 2013…..
I studied Communities Engagement and Enterprise in 2013 as part of a postgraduate certificate run in partnership between the University of Brighton and Locality’s national Community Organiser Programme. It looked at community organising and engagement in a changing political landscape.
Since then I’ve been working as a community organiser in Brighton and around the UK. In 2012 I started working as the first students’ union-based organiser at Brighton SU where I managed a team of 5 COs and 60 volunteers across Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings. In 2016 I set up my own consultancy Let’s Co-organise, offering training, support and groundwork to organisations. I continue to train and support student officers and staff at SUs across the South East and I’m now a trustee of the national Community Organisers network.
For the last 3 years I’ve mostly been a contractor for Brighton and Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) supporting people to create their own affordable housing. This year has been particularly tough for many of us working in the third sector and we’ve really seen the affects of COVID 19 to those around us living in often unsafe, un-affordable homes. -Fellow alumni may remember these issues from being a student here! At BHCLT we have worked hard to change this which gives me hope.
One project I’ve loved working with is SEASALT Student Housing Cooperative. From the training and support work I’ve done at Sussex and Brighton I’ve been excited to see students from both working together on this. In 2018 I was able to connect them to BHCLT’s community led housing programme and in March 2020 BHCLT launched its first community share offer to buy a property for SEASALT. So far we’ve raised £299,000!! -Perhaps even more by the time you read this… This home will be an innovative, affordable, democratically organised project run by the group providing an alternative to some of the exploitative, poor student housing that is out there. The land trust will own the building and lease it to the students creating income to help sustain its work and helping to support more affordable homes. If you’d like to invest take a look! The minimum share is £250, interest is 3%, open until the 31st of December. https://www.ethex.org.uk/bhclt
We’ve recently launched the #PUSHBACKBRIGHTON street campaign which makes a bold statement about the issues with housing through mock estate agent boards hosted by local residents. We are building a movement around this of citizens and organisations that will help to drive change in our city.
I’ve really enjoyed reflecting on how my studies have influenced and supported my work. I owe so much to the connections with staff, students and local organisations that I made during that time and as my work with SEASALT shows, those links are continuing to bear fruit!
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