What changes do we want to make in Reading?
Bristol. Rain, traffic and a housing crisis. Sounds like most British towns and cities. But not entirely. Currently, in a nondescript office near Lawrence Hill train station in Easton, a new team of Acorn organisers are being trained.
Two of us, Rob and Freya, are going to be based in Reading. Acorn is a new community organisation where we work towards bringing people together to tackle the issues we all face in our day-to-day lives, whether that's unsafe derelict buildings and unused wasteland in Katesgrove, to the fact that the rent in Reading is increasing faster than it is in places in London, to the cuts to much needed lifelines like child support.
ACORN is currently making waves in Bristol and especially in the private rented sector. Our members have worked with Shelter, Citizens Advice Bureau and others to draw up the Ethical Lettings Charter which has now been unanimously accepted by Bristol City Council. We have also taken more direct action, winning tens of thousands of pounds in repairs for tenants. Read about some of their victories here and here. ACORN branches are setting up in London (in Forest Gate), Birmingham (in Balsall Heath) and Newcastle (in Heaton), and our members are talking about tackling important issues such as dangerous roads, dodgy landlords and rip off letting agents.
We're going to be back in Reading and out listening to your concerns in the next few weeks. We'll be looking to build a strong, powerful organisation that enables our members to change things that make life harder.
In the meantime you can connect with us through facebook or twitter. If you fancy seeing us earlier we'll be in Dismaland this week on Guerilla Island. If you're feeling active then get in touch via our website, and sign these petitions to help out our Bristol branch (Stop Tenancy Fees and Insecure Renting and Stop Rent Rise Eviction).