Community-led Organising: Seeing the inner city from the South is an action research project that speaks to ideas in post-colonial urban theory about finding new ways to engage with contemporary urban challenges in the global North by ‘seeing from the South’. The project is focused on community-driven processes of learning and exchange across the Global North and South.

Who we are
Two neighbourhood-based resident-led associations - the United Estates of Wythenshawe/Mums Mart and Lower Broughton Life - have co-designed a programme of action research with Dr Sophie King which builds on a series of exchanges with national affiliates of the international social movement Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI). Professor Diana Mitlin at the University of Manchester’s Global Development Institute has facilitated our growing understanding of SDI practices and supported the emergence of a new mentoring relationship between the Kenyan federation of slum dwellers and the Manchester groups.

Our approach
Our research methodology adapts core practices of SDI affiliates into a combined programme of action and knowledge production which is helping us to explore:

  • What does it mean for community action to be genuinely resident-led and what is shaping the ability of neighbourhood activists to come together in inclusive, autonomous, and sustainable associations capable of effecting real change in the lives of low-income communities in the UK?
  • How might neighbourhood activists balance autonomous action with voice and influence, securing investments of time, assets and resources from state and private actors where the transformations required to meet needs are beyond community means?
  • How can the experiences of savings-based urban social movements in the global South illuminate new pathways to knowledge, action and transformation for neighbourhood activists in Britain’s post-industrial North?

Through local and transnational community learning exchange combined with cycles of action and reflection we hope that participating groups will develop an increased understanding of different approaches to resident-led organising and the strengths and challenges associated with these approaches or organisational models. We hope that participating groups will have increased capacity and inspiration for resident-led organising in their neighbourhoods and that at least eight neighbourhood-based groups in Manchester and Salford will have exchanged experiences, ideas and concerns and hopefully have expressed a longer-term interest in maintaining a peer support relationship.

The action research is coordinated by Sophie King.