As you may be aware from previous blogs, we have been having a lot of discussion of late – with staff, with Fellows, and externally – about what constitutes a Fellows’ project. Well, here is a small but perfectly formed example sent to me by one of our Fellows, Wendy Tansey.
SIT STOP grew out of the RSA Coffeehouse Challenge and was a double Challenge award winner. Three local Fellows got together in Richmond and organised a public meeting, to which 30 people came along. They chose a theme for their challenge of ‘accessibility of the borough’ and had a very simple core concept, championed by a small group of voluntary indivuals: providing more seats for people in public places. SIT STOP is solely about getting shops and businesses to make a seat available to anyone who needs it and to display the SIT STOP logo to make the public aware of this resource.
The underlying intent is to make Richmond Borough accessible to as many people as possible. So people who are elderly, pregnant, disabled or just not feeling very good that day can find a seat to rest whilst out and about… without feeling any pressure to purchase or consume. This small but practical and excellent idea has now:
• Been positively supported by Richmond Borough Council which has provided funding to match the RSA’s two awards and also given other support by providing training from their Community Toilets Scheme.
• Been adopted by Starbucks (original sponsors of the Coffeehouse Challenge) who operate the scheme in the all their coffee shops in the Borough.
• Received supported from 34 local businesses, which have been enthusiastic about the scheme, with no significant problems being reported.
• Been taken up beyond the Borough.
• Been endorsed by Boris Johnson, who thinks the scheme should be adopted across London in parallel with the Community Toilets Scheme.
So, what a great result – and what a perfect example of an RSA Fellows’ project: starting small, but coming up with practical solutions to a problem that can be replicated elsewhere. If you want to find out more, and have a go at getting the scheme going in your area, SIT STOP can be contacted via their website.
And, as some of you may have heard at our recent AGM, from the spring we will be setting up a ‘venture fund’ to provide seed funding to Fellows’ projects like this – so do watch out for further announcements.
Finally, thanks again Wendy, for letting us know about this.
We shouldn’t underestimate how far our societies have pulled apart. Yet there is hope for renewal, says Anthony Painter. The question is not whether we come together – but how.