Community Savers: from Africa to Hulme

Our Global Development Institute have recently created a blog documenting the progress of the Community Savers project, a collaborative project with tenants from Hopton Court, Hulme, inspired by the work of Shack Dwellers International in Africa and Asia.

They tell the story of how a women-led social movement methodology from the Global South, has enabled older tower-block tenants in inner-city Manchester to address health and social inequalities experienced by elderly people living in the heart of the city.

Activists affiliated to Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) have been visiting Manchester to teach at the Global Development Institute on an annual basis since 2011. As a movement that has proliferated across cities of the Global South through community-to-community learning exchange, they soon requested to meet with community organisations and projects during their visits. SDI affiliates always seek out opportunities to learn from other communities about their experiences and strategies for addressing situations of disadvantage.

In March 2016, these exchanges catalysed something exciting and transformative: the first SDI-style savings group was established in Manchester organised by Mums Mart community association in Wythenshawe. Once the torch was lit, the fire spread quickly. A partnership between the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester and the Realising Just Cities programme and University of Sheffield enabled a series of international visits from community leaders in Greater Manchester to first the South African, and then the Kenyan SDI affiliate, to take place.

Six years later, and despite the hurdles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is now a network of five neighbourhood-based savings initiatives spanning Manchester, Stockport and Sheffield. Community Savers is supported by Community Led Action and Savings Support, which helps to facilitate the savers network, establish new groups and continues to support leaders to exchange with their Kenyan mentor federation Muungano Wa Wanavijiji.

Community Savers groups have made amazing progress supporting their communities through the pandemic, developing poverty reduction projects and innovations, and increasingly developing new visions and partnerships for their neighbourhoods which can address the long-term disadvantage experienced in some of the lowest-income neighbourhoods in Greater Manchester and Sheffield.

One of the most exciting new partnerships to emerge from their efforts is the Ageing Well in Place in Hulme initiative which brings together tenants, their housing provider, the Manchester Local Care Organisation, local voluntary and community sector organisations and two universities to co-produce solutions for elderly and vulnerable tower block tenants living in the Aquarius estate, in inner-city Manchester. The impact has been so profound that one of the leading tenants’ group, Aquarius Community Savers, have recently won a University of Manchester Making a Difference Award.

Visit the blog to read more about the project and hear Tina Cribbin, long-term Hulme activist and member of Aquarius Community Savers share her experiences.

Find out more:

  • Check out the project’s winner’s film for the 2022 Making a Difference Awards.
  • See the Community Savers website.