By ACORN Manchester (@AcornManchester)
As we enter 2019, it’s good to take stock - to stop and reflect on the 12 previous months. Evaluate how it all went. And how did it go for ACORN this year? We absolutely smashed it. Tripling our membership since we launched in January, winning countless cases for our members and carving a name for ourselves in the Greater Manchester area. There is no other organisation like us in Manchester, a member-led union built to directly help Manchester communities with whatever issues they’re facing. We’re unique in that we’re powered solely by our members, without all of us working together tirelessly over this past year we wouldn’t be anywhere near the landlord-fighting powerhouse we are today. Here are just some of the things we accomplished this year:
- We Launched
In January last year, ACORN Manchester officially launched in a packed hall at Friends Meeting House. We discussed the issues with housing in Manchester, decided our first big campaign and elected our first coordinators.
- Won Countless Member Defence Cases
We say countless, but after looking at our stats, on average we won a case every week and a half. That’s one household every week and a half that won their deposit back, or that received important repairs, or in one case went from having no floor to having a floor in their flat. Our member defence team has been on fire this year, expanding from the original team of four to a team of around 15 just to keep up with demand.
- Picketed a Letting Agent and Won
Our largest case this year involved an entire tower block’s worth of disrepair. The residents of the block had put up for years with dodgy doors, broken fences and completely unacceptable standards. After they got in touch with ACORN, we came up with a plan of action and one crisp morning in October, we gathered outside the letting agent in charge of the housing and delivered our demands. An hour and one productive chat later, our member who lived in the tower block came out and declared victory, the companies responsible were going to carry out all the repairs asked for.
- Tripled Our Membership
From launching in January to our latest figures, ACORN Manchester has tripled in size over 2018. A mix of street stalls, door knocking and publicity over social media has left us as we move into 2019 with an incredibly strong base of motivated and skilled members, all of whom are itching to redress the balance between tenant and landlord this year.
2019 is going to be the year of ACORN Manchester and the wider housing movement we’re proud to be a part of. Renters have been putting up with too much for too long and this year we’re going to change the face of tenancies in Greater Manchester for the better. Already, we’ve got an exciting list of plans for this year:
- Hiring a Paid Organiser
In February, ACORN Manchester is going to have a full-time community organiser in its ranks. Tasked with bringing together communities around common issues through meetings and door knocking no matter the weather, they’re going to be an invaluable asset to us and are going to bring in a huge number more members and a huge amount more power. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, take a look at the job role here.
- Building a Levenshulme Local Group
In the tail end of 2018 we decided Levenshulme was going to be the location for the first of our three planned local groups. Our members who live there have told us there are a large number of issues that ACORN could help the community solve and our first few stalls we’ve held there are showing that to be the case. Watch out for the creation of ACORN Levenshulme in 2019!
- Our First Quarterly General Meeting
And this month, we’re going to have our first of many Quarterly General Meetings. Leaving behind a lot of the trappings of regular planning or coordination meetings and sidestepping the pitfalls of a protracted AGM style conference, our QGMs are going to be informative, entertaining and inspiring. On Wednesday January the 30th, we’re going to have speakers from Living Rent (our sister organisation in Scotland), from housing activists in Manchester and even from the head of ACORN International, Marva Burnett. With food provided and a chance to leave halfway through for those of us who can’t commit to a whole evening, we’re incredibly excited to see as many people from the Manchester housing scene as possible there. Take a look at the event here and get a free ticket from our EventBrite page here.
ACORN Manchester is going to go from strength to strength in 2019. Alongside all of our friends in all the other Manchester housing organisations, we’re going to be making waves this year. If you’re interested in being part of our plan, we want to hear from you! Get in touch via our Facebook, Twitter or through our email and we can arrange a meeting or point you to a working group to join. We hope to see all of you in 2019, working to bring power to the people of Manchester!
4 January 2019