We attended the Rural Urban Synthesis Society’s (RUSS) Community Hub Build Launch in Ladywell, Lewisham. After working alongside RUSS in a number of ways in recent years, CDS have supported the delivery of this project in line with our vision to promote community led housing.
RUSS is a Community Land Trust based in South London. Founded in 2009, the group’s first project is a sustainable development of 36 homes with shared open space on a site in Church Grove, Ladywell. Ahead of the construction of these homes, the group have crowdfunded for the materials of a self-build community space on the site which will act as a knowledge hub to share ideas and learning. Amongst other things, the Hub will become home to the RUSS School of Community-led Housing which carries out vital work in equipping emerging groups with the skills needed to successfully lead a community-led project.
Chief Executive of CDS, Linda Wallace, believes the Hub highlights the potential held within the community-led housing sector and is delighted that CDS are able to help RUSS to unlock this potential:
We are really delighted to be able to support the RUSS Community Led Housing School as part of our promoter work. At CDS, we want to make it possible for CLH to be widely and easily available for anyone who wants to change their housing choices through their own efforts. The RUSS school has the potential to increase confidence and skills for local people to identify and convert new housing opportunities – that might otherwise fail to come to fruition. The school is a great example of the collaboration and generosity of our sector – with RUSS keen to share what they have learned so far and to learn from others as they embark on their CLH journey. We are excited to be able to help and can’t wait to see what comes next!
Work began on site for the Hub is due to be completed by September 2019. The build, carried out in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity, will be largely led by a team of volunteers. This group will drawn from RUSS’ 1000 strong membership and beyond. Last night we heard from a number of the RUSS team who recapped the remarkable hard work over the past two years that has allowed the Hub build to begin this month. The RUSS team were also up front about the unexpected bumps in the road they have faced during this process, from volunteer burnout, to the logistics of sourcing sustainable materials.
We are proud to support the team overcome some of these logistical difficulties. It is a space that will be used extensively by both the local community and the community-led housing world.
A team of CDS staff volunteered on-site at RUSS Lewisham’s Community Hub self-build site.
The day was enjoyed by a group from CDS that was made up of staff from across the organisation. It was great to be able to contribute in a small way to the Hub’s progress and we are excited to see the end result of RUSS’ impressive efforts.
The volunteers were keen to learn about the project and it was great to get the chance to hear from the RUSS team about the longer-term plans for the Church Grove site. Working alongside Habitat for Humanity (UK), the team were briefed on-site safety and the aims of the day before work began.
The Hub is largely being built using reclaimed, recycled and donated materials and tools, keeping costs down and further highlighting the potential of an active and supportive community. As you can see, the volunteers were put to task throughout the day. Some of the team were responsible for prepping the shell of the building for waterproofing by installing cladding batons before securing the waterproof membrane to the structure. This membrane will ensure the building remains watertight whilst allowing it to breathe and stopping condensation from getting trapped. The team was also responsible for cutting timber and staining facia trims along the top of the building. The group had a great day working together and enjoyed learning some new, practical skills.
The group of volunteers would like to extend their thanks to the RUSS team for their warm welcome and patient teaching on the day. Everyone at CDS is proud to support the project and is looking forward to seeing its continued progress in the coming months.