First Your Square Mile sites up – privately

The highly-ambitious Your Square Mile programme, that aims to help develop “8000 local democracies” throughout the UK supported  by new online systems, now has some of the first sites up in the pilot areas, using SocialGO. Here’s screen shots from Todmorden. There is no central register of sites, but as examples here’s Liverpool8Manton, and Wigton.

Todmorden website header

Each site follows a similar format, featuring a film shot by the Media Trust at workshops organised by the Your Square Mile team, and five projects developed and voted on by those attending.

Most content on the sites is private – that is, accessible only to those who have registered. The site invitation is aimed at local people, although there appears to be no way of checking if you do wish to register from outside the area.

As I reported earlier, Your Square Mile has £830,000 funding from the Big Lottery under the banner of People Powered Change.

There is lively discussion about the Your Square Mill plans over on the Our Society network. Julian Dobson posed some questions on his blog, and Your Square Mile chief executive Paul Twivy responded here, with more details. The aim is not just to create local web sites, but also to make Your Square mile the UK’s biggest mutually-owned organisation, with 15 million members with 10 years. They will pay a small sum in return for benefits.

I’ve commented a lot in the Our Society discussions, and believe that Your Square Mile could offer huge benefits … if the development team are able to learn from work over the past 15 years in this field. There may also be lessons to learn from VillageSOS, where Big Lottery has also funded development of SocialGO sites.

So far the VillageSOS sites show little activity, and anyone who has created a local online site knows how challenging it can be to recruit people and facilitate activity. In a recent Our Society discussion, Steve Clift questions whether private sites on the scale envisaged by Your Square Mile are likely to succeed.

However, it is early days, and I wish all those in the pilot areas well in their efforts to make use of the generous Big Lottery funding. I hope they will share their experience, either on Our Society, or some other open platform.

If you are interested, do drop a comment here, or even better join us at Our Society, where we now have more than 480 members. You have to register to contribute, but that’s simple and we’ll make you welcome.


  • April 11, 2011 - 12:12 pm | Permalink

    David, Coincidentally it was an entry for BBC Village SOS where I first pitched for a local development hub. It was where I introduced BIG Lottery to our social business model. The bid was unsuccessful in not being deemed to have adequate stakeholder support.

    We’ve probably been a little more ambitious in our desire to ‘replicate localised people-centered economics on a global basis’ but just the UK will do as for a start.

    I started up our local SocialGo about a year ago. We’ve always made a practice of public disclosure. The disadvantage of being open weighed against the evidence of copyright, where appropriate. As for example in our international development activity.

    As may be noted on some social media platforms, there are some stating ownership of creative property for anything published on them. I wonder where one will stand with Your Square Mile?

  • April 11, 2011 - 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Our community reporter programme would fit in with this and worked through most of the issue described. Happy for them to get in touch.

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