The Social Exchange

April 16th, 2015 by Jennie Sandford in Research | no comments

Last week I went along to The Social Exchange organised by Beatfreeks in partnership with Mac Birmingham. The event promised to be a ‘jam-packed day of performances, stalls, goodies on sale, workshops, streetfood, soapbox moments and pop-up cinema’.


I went along as a community engagement exercise and with a view to meeting and exchanging info with organisations involved in community action so it was nice to find this handy little flyer by Illustrated Brum proposing exactly the same. I certainly met some really enthusiastic people and came away with some useful contacts from the Information Exchange:

First up, Beatfreeks themselves. Founded in 2013, this organisation has grown at an incredible pace. They’re a multi-strand award winning social enterprise, firmly rooted in Birmingham with an expanding national reach. Their aim is to pioneer new ways of engaging, empowering and developing people and spaces through a blend of arts & media, social action, leadership and enterprise. They call it Artivism and talk about Beatfreeks being ‘a philosophy, a mindset and a reflection of a new generation of creative, freethinking social reformers’.

social exchange fliers

Kevin Lewis told me all about  Young Rewired State_ and their community of digital makers, aged 18 and under. ‘Young people get to meet like-minded peers and expert mentors at free events where they use freely available open data to build apps, websites and algorithms to solve real world challenges.’ The aims of Young Rewired State_ include fostering a community of young coders and digital makers and using civic hacking skills to improve communities.

Next up I met Kitty Sadler, an Envision Coordinator. Started by four friends from a garden shed in London 15 years ago, Envision has expanded into Bristol and Birmingham and now works with over 2000 young people a year. They have a great website that tells the whole back story and explains about their work and how to get involved:  ‘Envision programmes help young people to design their own local community projects tackling issues ranging from street crime to climate change. Our programmes seek to provide individuals with a powerful and rewarding experience of making a positive difference. Thereby inspired by their experience, these young people will be both willing and able to continue acting as effective role models for their communities wherever they are building powerful legacies of their own.’

Finally, I had a great chat with Amahra, who founded Maia Creatives in 2013. ‘We work with our exceptionally gifted creative community to provide innovative solutions to the needs and projects of organisations. Not content with sourcing paid commissions for artists, we then reinvest profits back into training artists in business and personal development skills, so they’re able to sustain and run healthier practices. We also create platforms for artists to exhibit their work, including The Scratch Night.’

There are links to images from the day on the Beatfreeks facebook page – in their words, a “Wicked day of art, activism and opportunity”.

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