Empty Cages Collective supported by the Edge Fund
Two members of the Empty Cages Collective were incredibly moved on Saturday when they attended and participated in the third funding round of the radical funding initiative The Edge Fund.
Being a radical, grassroots project means we are unlikely to access funding from mainstream grant bodies, therefore other than DIY fundraising, sources of financial support are few and far between. This is why the Edge Fund was created. They fund work run by and for people facing discrimination and injustice and work aiming to create systemic change, supporting those who seek to dismantle and replace the structures and processes that create oppression, inequality and environmental destruction.
We had submitted an application for financial support towards the cost of our Conference and Community Organising events and were over the moon to be supported by the diverse members of the Edge Fund.
We were invited to a day in London to meet the other applicants and people involved in the Edge Fund network. Its aims were to be a transparent and empowering way to decide collectively where money should be allocated.
We got to hear the stories, inspiration and injustices that motivate organisers all over the UK who had applied to the fund. We were humbled by the opportunity to meet some incredible, passionate and hardworking organisers fighting injustice on all levels.
We joined the others in giving a short presentation about our work and aims, had to answer lots of critical questions on a stall, and share lunch before deciding together who we supported to access the funding they had applied for. This involved allocating chickpeas into pots and thinking critically about which work is most moving towards systemic change, and which groups would struggle to find funding elsewhere.
Overall it was a powerful start to the year. To hear other people’s words in support of abolishing the prison system and creating cultures of health and healing, will stay with us forever.
Below are some of the amazing projects that were supported with funding:
Lesbian Immigration Support Group (£4,400)
A group of lesbian and bisexual refugees and asylum seeking women and their lesbian and bisexual European supporters in Greater Manchester. They work to support each other, including visiting women in detention centres and to create awareness of who they are and why they have come to the UK. They challenge myths about LGBT people and about asylum seekers and refugees.
Stop and Search Mobile App (£3,000)
This mobile app is aimed at bringing fairness and transparency to the Stop and Search procedure carried out by UK Police. Stop and Search has been a controversial issue for decades because of the way it has been used. The app is aimed at changing the behaviour of the officers who do not carry out the procedure correctly, it informs people of their rights and allows them to upload their experience, including the officer’s ID number.
Anti Raids Network (£3,000)
Network formed of people involved in various London-based groups, including the Latin American Workers’ Association (LAWAS), No Borders London, South London Anti-Fascists, Precarious Workers Brigade, The Prisma, Stop Deportation, South and North London SolFed, People’s Republic of Southwark, and unaffiliated individuals – migrants and British citizens, people with and without papers. They aim to equip people to defend themselves and others as much as possible in the face of immigration raids and street checks. Their long term aim is to build a culture of mutual aid and resistance to racism, state surveillance and control on our streets.
Green and Black Cross (£3,000)
A network of independent groups providing legal and medics support to protestors around the country. They support protest actions and groups confronting an unjust system. In particular, they focus on those offering resistance and alternatives to attacks on living standards and social solidarity in the name of ‘austerity’, those who fight against injustices based on their race, gender, ability, religion or other characteristics, and those who undertake radical action for environmental protection and sustainable living.
Reel News (£3,000)
An activist video collective set up to support inspiring political campaigns, social struggles and creative initiatives by publicising and sharing information. They do this through producing a bimonthly subscription DVD, posting videos, written reports and slideshows online and arranging public screenings throughout the country at colleges and social and community spaces. Reel News is completely independent and non- aligned, anti-capitalist in outlook, and in favour of mass collective action in the workplace and on the streets to change society for the better.
Our Tottenham (£1,500)
A network of diverse local community groups throughout the area, campaigning to defend and promote the interests of the 120,000 people of Tottenham, North London. The Council are promoting their 2012 ‘Plan for Tottenham’ which promotes corporate-led and large scale urban development; increased rents and unaffordable housing; and the loss of some independent local shops, homes, community facilities and small businesses. Together with local people Our Tottenham has pledged to take action to support each other, and to defend community facilities; stand up for decent and affordable housing for all; support small businesses; promote quality design and respect for heritage; improve the street environment; support youth voices, services and facilities; empower our communities.
An all AfriKan group of Jembe players founded expressly to promote the traditional Jembe drum culture of the Mali Empire of West Africa for the holistic benefit primarily of people of Afrikan heritage. Their priority is to address the urgent need to reclaim their identity, their history and their traditions. They are dedicated to mobilising and empowering their people to be effective in the collective struggle against the on-going campaign of genocide, historical and environmental destruction and cultural and racial deionization, waged on an international scale by the privileged white elite regimes that dominate and exploit the worlds’ political and economic agendas.
UK Chagos Refugee Group (£1,732.50)
UK branch of the Mauritius-based Chagos Refugees Group. The group is comprised of Chagossians in exile who live in the UK and non- Chagossians who support the campaign. The population of the Chagos Islands (2000 or so people) were forcibly removed from their homeland by the British government in the late sixties to make way for a US Naval base. CRG was formed in 1983 in order to take up the struggle of the Chagossian people for their right to return home. See Stealing a Nation, by John Pilger, which describes the struggle of the Chagossians.
Brighton Anti-Fascists (£1,200)
Aiming to halt the harm and hate, damage and division caused by racism and fascism through promoting positive values: equality between all people; respect for difference, resistance to ‘official’, state or government definitions of ‘race’, ‘nation’, ‘immigrant’, ‘other’. They have played an important part in the development of a large community based opposition to the March for England’s arrival in Brighton as well as contributing to the wider anti-fascist movement by helping establish an Anti-Fascist Network.
DIY Space for London (£1,500)
A group of diverse individuals who have come together to open a permanent radical social centre for London, addressing the need for a sizeable, permanent and genuinely accessible home for our intersecting communities for what they do, beyond temporary squatted spaces or smaller meeting spaces. The space will be incorporated as a co-operatively owned not-for-profit enterprise with regular opening hours. It will be an active, autonomous member-run space able to accommodate live music and offering regular events, food, drink and meeting space at low or no cost.
Empty Cages Collective (£1,500)
A newly formed group aiming to build the foundations of an active prison-abolition movement in the UK. Most prison-related work is reformist, working for small changes that ultimately extend the life of the prison system. They aim to build literacy around the prison industrial complex and prison abolition in the UK. To inspire, skill share and support people to organise for prison abolition and to listen and work directly with affected communities and individuals harmed by the prison industrial complex in the UK.
London Coalition Against Poverty (£1,732.50)
A coalition of local groups who organise collectively around housing and welfare problems faced by their members. The majority of LCAP members are people on low incomes who are facing, or have experienced, problems with their benefits or housing. LCAP’s work mainly involves mutual support in the local groups, using tactics of “direct action casework” and local campaigning where appropriate.
Transition Heathrow (£1,435)
A grassroots project aiming to halt expansion at Heathrow airport. The main project is Grow Heathrow, a squatted community food growing project on a site that was previously derelict. They cleared the site of 30 tonnes of rubbish and converted it into a community hub where they grow food, run workshops and support the local community with their campaign against Heathrow 3rd runway. People also live on site and we are off-grid, generating our own energy through wind and solar.
The Common House (£1,500)
A new radical social centre in the East end of London, started in April 2013. It is an affordable space for groups in London to meet, have office space and to share resources and group practice. It is not just a space to be used or consumed, but is a collective attempt to organise and maintain infrastructure and resources for radical ideas and practices. A commons is different to private space (individually owned) and public space (state maintained). It is organised, maintained, and run by the people who use it.
Grants of up to £1,000
Unite the Youth (£700)
A group of young people from London from working class backgrounds, many of whom are also part of ethnic minority groups. They want to get rid of negative stereotypes of teenagers in the media, to ensure that they are not robbed of opportunities by austerity and tuition fees, and they want a fairer, more equal society, in which their opinions are respected and acted upon.
A local group working in Scotland and the UK to end the international arms trade. They raise awareness, campaign and take non-violent direct action to challenge the expansion of the arms trade, the presence of the arms trade in public spaces, such as universities, and other legitimisation of the arms trade.
Empowering Renewal UK (£1,000)
Affinity group of ecological and social justice activists who are working collectively on personal sustainability and burnout issues currently affecting them and other members of their group and networks. They are working to develop short ( 1 day) participatory gatherings, informative talks, and potentially writing, blogs and zines themed around sustainable activism and radical mental health in the UK.
Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group (£1,000)
Group set up three years ago for unemployed workers to self-organise around issues affecting benefit claimants. They educate people on a range of rights, through talking with people, leaflets and public workshops. Funds were specifically requested for organising a free summer university on the Isle of Wight to bring together working class activists from London and the Isle of Wight.
Amina Rafique (£1,000)
Amina was an asylum seeker held at a detention centre. The funds are to support her to make a documentary about it, including interviewing people’s experiences in detention and how it has affected their lives.
Calls from the Borders (£750)
A small group of people with and without citizenship who have been coming together since 2012 to imagine ways we can work to improve the experiences of, and debate around asylum and migration in Liverpool. They run events which are motivated by cultural and social representation and participation, and a writer’s group which came out of a desire to contribute to an informed debate and platforming diverse perspectives and experience.
Brent Housing Action (£750)
A group of residents, local campaigners, housing activists and community organisations that seeks to support those affected by the cuts and reforms in the welfare benefits system and the social injustices these have created that threaten the vibrancy and infrastructure of the local community.
A collective of residents of Haringey working around housing issues. They demand the right to affordable and secure housing using collective, direct action. HHAG began to meet and campaign around the housing issues in 2011 and was founded by members of Haringey Solidarity Group.
Migrant Media (£750)
a group of radical activist film-makers with a focus on work by and with people from migrant, black and refugee communities. Films have included Injustice, a feature length documentary about deaths in police custody and Who Polices The Police. They are currently working on The Resistance of Others, a follow up to Injustice.
A migrant-led environmental justice and social action non-profit based in Manchester. They seek to highlight and address environmental and social injustices faced by mining, quarrying, oil and gas, and other resource-rich communities in East Africa and beyond.
Romano Lav (£500)
A small Roma-led organisation that represents the Roma communities from Slovakia and the Czech Republic living in Govanhill, and in other areas of the City of Glasgow. Romano Lav aims to raise awareness of Roma culture, support the Roma communities to engage in a meaningful and inclusive way and to increase knowledge and understanding between the Roma and wider Glasgow communities.
Enables people to create and collate video: they create shows to put news in context, and collate the best social change video from around the world. If you watch any of visionOntv’s 5 main channels, you have a completely different view of the world than provided by the mainstream media – films full of ideas and actions for combating injustice. Their purpose is to get activist films made and seen, and more widely to get activist projects better linked with each other. They also aim to set up off-grid, sustainable power for activist media at protest sites.
WOW Petition (£500)
WOW Petition is a group of disabled people who came together via twitter, which enabled them to gain a voice and make a stand against recent welfare changes. They aim to raise awareness of their plight and the plight of the many sick, disabled people and carers in the UK who are living in fear. They are calling for a cumulative impact assessment of all the changes to support for sick, disabled people and their carers and an Independent Committee based Inquiry into welfare reform.
Filipino Domestic Workers’ Association (£500)
A grassroots selfhelp group set up by migrant domestic workers majority of whom are women, to take action against the removal of rights of migrant domestic workers to be treated as workers, with same employment rights as other workers in the UK and to be able to live with dignity and respect.
Europe Roma Network (£500)
A newly established campaigning group set up with the aim of acting as a network of advocates for Roma in the UK and Europe to challenge hatred, oppression, discrimination and prejudice towards Roma communities and individuals in all its forms.
A community group for Black Minority Ethnic (BME) Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) people living and working in Greater Manchester, started by four BME LGBTQ women who recognised that there were no community groups or professional services that catered specifically to the needs of BME LGBTQ people living in Greater Manchester.
Black Triangle Campaign (£500)
Black Triangle Campaign is run by and for disabled people and campaigns against government welfare reform, work capability assessments, compulsory workfare, privatisation of the welfare state and all disability cuts. They organise and take part in demonstrations and petitions as well working with doctors to put forward motions to the British Medical Association and pursuing legal avenues to challenge welfare reform and protect disabled people. They fight the myths about welfare claimants being malingerers.