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As one is an initiative of Uturn UK C.I.C, which since 2010 has pioneered Street Associations and in 2018 created and led 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 urgency, stimulating wider action.  

Before Covid, the aim was to re-ignite community spirit.  Now, post-Covid, the priority and opportunity is to ‘capture’ something of the community spirit that the emergency actually ignited – 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.

Our thanks to Peter Bellingham for banner designs and animations.

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