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Spike Surplus Scheme Under Threat

SpikeSE15 | 07.06.2008 18:57 | Culture | Free Spaces | London

South London Community Project under Threat – call for support
Open Day Sunday 15 June to showcase activities – all welcome

A community-based free space in Peckham is under threat of closure because the Southwark Council Executive has taken the decision to sell off the property. Peckham, one of London's most deprived areas, needs such local-driven initiatives that provide an outlet for local talent to create, collaborate and practice.

The Spike Surplus Scheme, which has served the South London community for over a decade thanks to support from local people as well as the Council itself, faces termination of its lease in August. Presently the Spike is negotiating with the Council for its survival and is requesting a year in which to organise a financial package to enable it to continue. If this is not successful, the Spike may be forced to close as early as August.

Providing affordable and free-where-possible services to the local community, the Spike is largely self-sustaining and furnished with recycled and donated equipment. It relies on donations from local users, albeit mostly in terms of time and skills rather than cash in such a poor neighbourhood. It has thrived thanks to a highly motivated and creative community, a supportive council attitude and modest grants.

The facilities are open to use by all and are particularly popular with young musicians and artists because of the support offered and equipment provided. Southwark Council, which has been forced to cut back on its public services to the community, should be fighting to keep open such local-driven initiatives that benefit all of the community. It would be a bitter blow to the area if another centre, and such an inspiring and treasured one, was forced to close.

"The loss of the Spike will have a devastating effect on the local community. It provides networking, facilities and inspiration to a large number of people from a diversity of cultures. The positive effects of its presence are incalculable in an area that is very much in need of a sense of community with a positive influence on young and old alike." Tom Yardley, (local teacher) SE23.

"It would be a tragedy if the Spike Surplus Scheme was closed due to the council selling off the land. It is an essential community resource that engages and unites the community in environmental sustainability, well being promotion, music and art. The Council must support schemes like these, not sell the land from under them." Mike Podmore, (local campaigner), SE13

"I spent 10 years working for Southwark Council and the amount of money that has been wasted runs into millions. It seems very churlish of the Council to sell this site for a mere £500K which will not make a significant long term impact on any budget line. It seems more to be more a requirement of internal Council policy. Why sell this land when it meets the needs of the local population?" Johnathan Mills DY10

"Now is not the time – with the increasing gun and knife crime – to be closing such an inspiring and empowering community space. This cannot happen!" Jamila Sami (local resident) SE15

Sunday 15 June from 2pm
The Spike is showcasing its recent activities with live music, including The Pin Stickers, Speakers Corner Quartet, and other acoustic acts, alongside healing, food (some of which is home grown and baked in the new cob oven created by the community gardeners); games and much more.
For more information, please contact:
Paul Kelly
Mobile: 0790 365 2149

Editor's notes:
The history behind the name
A "Spike" was a common name for a shelter of last resort. 39b Consort Road was part of the original, and by far the biggest, Spike. First as a workhouse and later as a reception centre, it served the homeless, jobless and urban poor for over a century, providing a roof for over a million people. Established in the 1860's, it finally closed its doors in 1985. George Orwell documents having visited the 'Spikes' in the 1930s.

In the 1990s, the site was used by the South London Children's Scrap Scheme, which recycled industrial and office waste into arts and craft materials for schools and kids projects. Unfortunately it lost its funding and was forced to vacate in 1998.

From its inception, the Spike Surplus Scheme took up the recycling challenge and in many ways went beyond the remit of the original scheme. The site was reclaimed from its abandoned fly-tipped state and the land opened up for community activities.

What does the Spike Surplus Scheme do?
The scheme is run as a community resource. It has facilitated numerous endeavours from aid to Afghanistan to drama workshops. The three most popular resources are:

1. The Spike Surplus Studio provides an outlet for Peckham's local talent to create, collaborate and practice. The professional equipment and technical advice on hand are open to all, particularly young people, developing a network of supportive experienced artists. Well-known artists such as musician Manu Chao and comedian Mark Thomas have lent their support to the studio.

2. The Spike Community Garden is at the heart of the Spike Surplus Scheme and developed it into a flourishing green oasis. Seasonal courses provide education to the community on subjects such as permaculture, herb and vegetable gardens, living willow-weaving, composting, irrigation and grey water recycling. Seedlings, compost and cuttings are freely available. Sound ecological principles actively encourage local biodiversity. Links: London Wildlife Trust, South London Permaculture Group.

3. The Spike Wellbeing Space runs daily classes include meditation, yoga, tai chi and martial-arts. The popular weekly Well-Being Clinic provides the neighbourhood with complementary therapies – Reiki, Shiatsu, Tai massage, Ayuvedic massage and Indian head massage – and also gives advice on diet and lifestyle. These are run free-of-charge or on a donation basis.

The Spike Surplus Scheme has started an online petition to save the centre:

Spike Surplus Scheme Website:

Spike Surplus Scheme Myspace:

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