The Selby Trust manages the Selby Centre (a former school premises in Tottenham) as a multi-purpose community and social enterprise centre and has three main aims: (i) ‘to increase the capacity and sustainability of historically excluded groups in the diverse communities served’; (ii) ‘to promote and support, directly and through networking, a range of opportunities to enable all communities to achieve economic, social and cultural growth’; (iii) ‘to be a key place in community and economic development through partnership working at all levels – locally, London-wide, nationally and internationally’. These aims are served by five inter-related core functions: (a) Community Facilities Management – Maintaining the centre as a community facility which reaches over 100 enterprises and attracts 1500 individuals on a regular basis; (b) Community Development Centre – Bringing grassroots partnerships and consortia together in a rich mix of cutting edge services that challenge poverty, injustice and inequality; (c) Community Economic Development – Achieving sustainability through social enterprise that promote growth in the local economy whilst serving social and environmental functions; (d) Community Safety – Encourage safer neighbourhoods with less violence, anti-social behaviour and better life chances for young people, women, offenders and ex-offenders; (e) Community Environmental Development – Greening the Selby Centre by creating a diverse, low carbon community as a model of good practice.
Based at the Selby Centre since 1992, with a 25 year lease from Haringey Council, the Selby Trust was registered as a Company Limited by guarantee in May 1993 and as a charity in May 1994. It is, therefore, one of the longest established organisations of its type in the area targeting economic performance and social mobility. The Trust was originally set up by local people passionate about the need for a facility led by the community and third sector organisations and constitutes a board of trustees, 21 members of paid staff and numerous volunteers. It is an explicitly area-based arrangement and sees itself as a platform from which new forms of social capital will emerge. Its activities are also designed to support local entrepreneurs by providing spaces for small businesses to expand and flourish with the goal of contributing to economic development in the area.
The Selby Centre site is 150,000 sq. ft. (13,935 square meters) containing offices, meeting rooms, training facilities, sports and events halls and a large car park. There are a wide range of organisations based at the centre including social enterprises, training centres, organisations to support vulnerable migrant groups, and infrastructure to support community activities (such as martial arts classes and cooking/gardening projects). The site is also used by a wide range of sports and religious groups, runs its own café and restaurant, and regularly hosts community events of all sizes including weddings, funerals, and cultural ceremonies.
Perception and use of the concept of diversity
The centre is located in an area of high deprivation and brings together a diverse mix of individuals and organisations following the Selby Trust motto ‘Many Cultures, One Community’ which plays a key role in shaping the work that it does for a local community which is one of the most diverse boroughs in London. Although it primarily serves Tottenham and the surrounding area, and its users are primarily from BME, refugee and other historically excluded communities, it is available for use by all people and organisations in Tottenham, Haringey and other areas of North London, as well as further afield. It produces charts every year outlining the demographics of its users who include those from Turkish, Somali, Romanian, Mauritian, Kurdish, Indian, Ghanaian, Greek-Cypriot, English, Caribbean and other backgrounds. As part of the Trust philosophy stated above it is committed to increasing the ‘capacity and sustainability of historically excluded groups in [its] diverse communities’ and to promoting and supporting ‘a range of opportunities to enable all communities to achieve economic, social and cultural growth’.
Main factors influencing success or failure
The Selby Centre is locally recognised as a leading venue for community activities and one that possesses a relatively high degree of organisation, legitimacy, and stability. According to the Trust, the Centre attracts over 1500 people every day from Haringey’s diverse communities and is used by over 100 community groups and local enterprises employing over 300 staff. The highly motivated Chief Executive and Board of Trustees play a key role in ensuring that the organisation is headed in the right direction and responsive to the needs of the local community. The operating arrangement of the Selby Centre as a community asset is a key success factor as it offers the Trust the significant advantage of being able to identify and pursuing its own independent goals and strategies. Another notable feature of the Selby Trust’s activities is the strength and diversity of its funding sources. According to the representative we spoke to it is almost 80% self-sufficient, generating income through “incubating and supporting social enterprises that hire out community facilities at the Selby Centre at affordable rates” with the remainder supplemented by grants. The Global Garden, Global Kitchen project led by the Selby Trust and based at the centre is a good example of a new and innovative source of revenue explored recently where the website ‘Spacehive’ was used to solicit crowdfunding pledges from willing donors and managed to raise its goal of £11,104 (€13,822) to ‘transform unused space into a new community food garden and kitchen where local people can learn to grow and cook a mix of produce that reflects Tottenham’s diversity’.
The most significant barrier facing the organisation, also related to funding and asset ownership, is the question of the lease for the Selby Centre itself. At the time of writing the 25 year lease granted by Haringey Council only has 8 years remaining and expires in January 2022. Without an extension of this lease the Trust believes it is unable to attract capital investment for the Centre and is left in a precarious position for the future.
The Selby Trust is an example of a dynamic organisation based in an economically deprived and ethnically diverse area of London led by community and third sector organisations which focuses on improving economic performance. It does so by maximising its community asset, the Selby Centre, and creating innovative and sustainable sources of revenue to provide local entrepreneurs and community organisations with opportunities they would not otherwise have had to grow their businesses and tackle the deprivation and inequality which exists in the area.