About Otherwise Living
We set up Otherwise Living to address some of the social, economic and environmental inequalities that are affecting many inner London boroughs and that have been identified as priorities for improvement by local government.
We believe in social cohesion and in cleaner, greener and safer neighbourhoods. We want to be part of a community that is supportive, inclusive and responsive to the needs of all those living in it; a neighbourhood that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable… within central London.
Otherwise Living was established in 2012 as a multi-stakeholder co-operative and has since also become a Community Land Trust. The management team chose this particular model because it allows different stakeholders to invest in and have a voice in the overall running of the organisation within a democratic co-operative framework. Membership is open to all users as well as non-user investors and all members have voting rights. It is run by a democratically elected board as a not-for-profit organisation accountable to its membership, rules and statutes. It is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
This statement lays out the way that Otherwise Living hopes to work, and what inclusion means to us. This statement is a living document.
Otherwise Living is committed to transparency, flexibility and change. In order to achieve this, it is both necessary, and desirable, to be open to conflict, and its resolution.
We recognise that we live in an unequal and oppressive society, where social class and other power relations have a real impact on people’s lives. Otherwise Living will try to ensure that groups of people who experience oppression are at the centre of our work. We recognise that there is no single group experience, but that racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia and other structural oppressions are realities. In order to change these, we will be continually learning from our experiences and our differences and seeking genuine commonality from which to build strong relationships.
Otherwise Living’s focus will always be on building good working relationships. This means that members, and all those involved with Otherwise Living, will commit to taking responsibility for themselves, communicating as clearly and openly as possible with each other. By maintaining this focus, we hope to build a culture that does not blame individuals, but encourages productivity and learning.
Otherwise Living does have written policies required by law, and there are, and will be occasions when these will be necessary. These are:
We view these as documents that should be engaged with, to inform our work and relationships with each other positively. However, policies are all too often written and never engaged with. By writing this statement, Otherwise Living hopes to avoid this.
Who we are
Great things are achieved through team-work and we believe that we have a better chance of achieving our aims and goals together. Otherwise Living members have lived, worked and been involved in community building activities and local enterprise initiatives within central London for many years. Our management committee is looking to expand its membership in the near future.
Our current team is:
Leslie Barson - With over 30 years of experience in property management, Leslie is widely published and speaks internationally about education, housing and sustainability. Leslie founded The Otherwise Club in 1993, a community centre in Central London for home educating families, co-founded Granville Community Kitchen, and continues to be actively involved in both.
Sian Fletcher - Sian has worked in finance for various organisations, including development finance for a housing association and financial controller for one of the UK's largest Citizens’ Advice Bureaux. She currently works part time for a community centre in south London and has a counselling private practice. She has been an active member of The Otherwise Club; whilst working part-time, she home educated her daughter.
Jane Hickson - Jane is a self-employed Manual Lymphatic Drainage and massage therapist, tutor in exercise and pregnancy massage and examiner for aromatherapy training. She has a background in administration and has served on many committees as well as having extensive experience in managing volunteers, coordinating workshops and activities for events.
Deirdre (Dee) Woods - Dee is a food and farming action-ist who advocates for good food for all and a just, equitable food system, challenging the systemic barriers that impact marginalised communities and food producers. Her work meets at the nexus of poverty and hunger, human rights, food sovereignty, community development, policy, research, climate and social justice.
Dee is co-founder of Granville Community Kitchen in South Kilburn. A previous BBC Food and Farming Awards winner, Dee sits on the GLA London Food Board, the steering group of People Food Power and is a co-editor of A People's Food Policy. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University, member of the Food Ethics Council and the coordinating group of the Landworkers Alliance, co-chair of the Independent Food Aid Network and Trustee of Sustain. Dee is a founding member of the Global Solidarity Alliance for Food, Health and Social Justice and co-founder of the African Caribbean Heritage Food Network.