Published 18th December 2018

New video release: “Selby Centre, a Social Action Hub in the heart of Tottenham”

The Selby Trust have just released a video by London based multi-media artist Jérémie Magar, which helps to illustrate how the Trust’s Social Action Hub, the Selby Centre, uses community organising as a tool to promote equality – in access to resources, partnerships, community spaces, building skills, and gaining influence from a grassroots level – to help shape the quality and increase capacity of what the community can collectively develop and have impact on in Tottenham, in London, and with partners beyond.

The Selby Trust is a well-established community anchor in Tottenham, which emerged through local people organising themselves in the mid-1980s, when unemployment and migration were high on the agenda.  The Trust’s Selby Centre has become a major community destination where local people manage, organise, and develop creative solutions – both collaboratively and independently.

More recently, the Selby Centre has become one of the Social Action Hubs in the national Community Organisers’ network and has embedded community organising into its core strategy and business model; acknowledging that – as an organisation – it is “100% a product of communities driving forward change.”

At the Selby Trust, we are keen to share an ambitious vision for Tottenham, as a thriving, dynamic and globally connected area. As a Social Action Hub we want to see community organising of listening and collaboration, sharing leadership and finding solutions at all levels in the relationships between residents, centres/hubs, institutions and within communities on and beyond its doorstep. We want to spread community organising across the local neighbourhoods, training staff, volunteers and local leaders, public sector staff, and local employers.
Sona Mahtani, Chief Executive Selby Trust

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The video’s director, Jérémie Magar, is originally from Paris and came to the UK in 2014 to complete a MA in Fine Arts at Central Saint Martins – combining the professional skills he gained working for audiovisual companies in France and his passion for documentary films, he intends to create original video works portraying extraordinary stories often based in marginal communities.

“When Selby’s Moussa Amine Sylla introduced me to his work as a community organiser, I discovered that, far from being repetitive or using always hierarchical strategies to tackle social issues, his work was incredibly diverse and responsive.  What called my attention was his focus on cultural activities, empowering projects such as the platform ‘Spoken’, Tottenham Theatre, and many more.  This method was new for me and, as I am interested in community work via my video research, I decided to engage more.

In 2018, I participated in a Community Organising introductory training.  During this day, we were challenge in our (old) understanding of what and how community work operates.  What was striking for me were three particular notions that I since with me, even in my video practice: listening, connecting, and organic organising.

Since then, I have already been involved in three projects with Moussa and other community organisers that all have evolved organically.  The first is my participation in the making of a short film on Teriy Keys story, a young man born and raised in Tottenham – funded by Royal Court Theatre; the second (still in the making) is the organisation of a Basket Ball Tournament with an integrated video-training in partnership with community worker Benoit Heskett.  The third is the writing/producing/directing of a short documentary on the history and recent work of the Selby Trust in partnership with Moussa.  This last one has been a real challenge, an incredibly rich and promising experience where I get to meet a wide range of community workers, to learn from inspiring stories and most importantly, to work collaboratively to define a shared vision.

As I plan to come to live in North London next year, I intend to continue this fruitful collaboration and engage in the networks I have developed since I become a community organiser. My aim is to help developing social project but more importantly to continue filming, archiving and distributing the stories I have heard along the way.”

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