This theme is about ensuring local economies are strong and robust but also about creating a society that is inclusive, where people feel empowered and receive fair pay and support.
Whilst ensuring people receive fair pay may seem difficult for individuals to influence, you do have power. Buying goods from local independent businesses and supporting Fairtrade are two ways of ensuring the money you spend does a bit of good. By voting and writing to your local Councillor or MP you can also have your views heard.
Our top tips
- Support local and independent shops. Local and independent shops help money to circulate locally, encourage entrepreneurship and enable a more healthy variety of products to be sold. This is evidenced through research and case studies by the New Economics Foundation’s work in connected economies.
- Volunteer. Volunteering is a fantastic way to meet people, have fun and do something a bit different. You can visit Do It to see all the volunteering opportunities near you.
- Ethical banking, pensions and investment. The money sitting in your bank account and savings is invested in all sorts of things. Eiris, the Ethical Investment Research Service, offer an independent non-profit resource on what happens to your money, to help you know you have made a choice that meets your values. Another handy resource is the Guardian’s ethical money pages.
- Buy ethical and fair trade products. There is a mountain of resources to help you choose ethical products. Ethical Consumer is a good start to understand the social impacts of different products. The Fairtrade Foundation is also helpful for finding out about certified Fairtrade products, of which there are over 4,500. If you’re concerned about the conditions in which your clothing is made, find out more from the charities Labour Behind The Label and Traid.
- Vote. Our right to vote is a wonderful and important privilege. Find out more about your right to vote here. If you aren’t sure who or what to vote for, there are lots of guides to help you such as Vote Match. You can also find out lots of useful information about different politicians at They Work For You.
- Write to your Councillor or MP. Someone once told me that writing to your MP is equivalent to voting 450 times. We are not sure if that’s true but we know it can have positive effects. So if you’re bothered about an issue, you can quickly contact your local representative using the Write To Them service.
- E-Petitions. Petitions have long been sent to the Prime Minister by post or delivered to the Number 10 door in person. You can now both create and sign petitions online using the official e-petition website.
Case study projects
Heart of Hackbridge
The Heart of Hackbridge Outer London Fund project was a two year, £1.2m project funded by the Mayor of London and Sutton Council, finishing in 2014. It aimed to create a thriving, sustainable ‘heart’ to Hackbridge.
Traders were supported to improve their offer, sustainability, and reslience to major changes in the area. The project attracted a new businesses, one apprenticeship and five jobs to the area.
Public realm was transformed to create a ‘place’ for people to shop and relax, as well as travel through – slower, smoother and safely. Step-free access made the centre accessible to all.
The project was steered by traders and the community through a Delivery Board and regular consultations.