As one is an alliance of community organisations, faith organisations, local authorities, businesses, schools and residents, united in the belief that this is a key time to harness the surge of community spirit brought about by Covid 19, rather than see it disappear. There is seen to be a once-in-a-generation opportunity here and we are determined to do what we can to seize it! Longer term, As One is about continuing to encourage and support the development of real, vibrant, community, street-by-street, across the UK.
The initiative has been developed by Uturn UK C.I.C, which since 2010 has pioneered Street Associations and in 2018 created and also Birmingham’s Permission to Smile campaign. Led by Martin and Gina Graham, Uturn UK exists to promote greater friendliness (in the face of a tendency to ‘keep oneself to oneself’) and to stimulate and facilitate the restoration of true community at the grass-roots level, especially amongst neigbhours who live on the same street.
The Permission to Smile campaign, supported by 158 Birmingham organizations including the council, chamber of commerce, civic society and voluntary services council, faith groups and schools, has had a high profile in Birmingham since 2018 and has provided something of a ‘template’ for As One, with the Covid-19 crisis giving a sense of both urgency, stimulating wider action.
Post-Covid, the priority and opportunity is to ‘capture’ something of the community spirit that the emergency actually ignited – to harness it and to help it to become a permanent feature of streets up and down the country.
Martin Graham was previously director of On the Move International (1998-2009), which brought ecumenical groups of churches together to look outwards and put on free barbecue events for the wider community and did so in 157 locations in the UK and also in 27 countries. Before that, he was CEO of the Kent Chamber of Commerce and Industry (1993-98), Deputy Director of the Conservative Research Department (1991-93) and Public Affairs Director of the British Chambers of Commerce (1988-91). Martin holds an M Litt from Cambridge and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Uturn UK CIC is governed by a board of directors, who are: Alasdhair Hedges (chairman, Oxford), Irene Elias (Birmingham), Loraine Hedges (Oxford) Ray Buick (Essex) and Nick Hoult (Birmingham).
Our thanks to the many networks, local authorities and others who are helping pull this together. Particular thanks, also, to Peter Bellingham for banner designs and animations.
Below is a video message Sir Lenny Henry kindly did in support of Permission to Smile; and, below that, a video message by Hugh Osgood, co-president of Churches Together in England, encouraging churches to embrace the As One vision.