Good News Issue Number 3

Some years ago listening to Radio 4, I heard a journalist say that everyone at one of the newspapers that he’d worked for knew the editorial line. This was that “Someone, somewhere today out there is enjoying themselves and it’s our job to put a stop to it”.  From the tone of his voice, he didn’t sound as though he was joking. He didn’t mention the name of the paper although I guess it wouldn’t take much working out to realise which one it was.

Now, I mention this for a number of reasons, the main one of which is that, in my view, newspapers should be publishers of facts and opinions with the difference between the two being very clear. Give me the facts and I can make up my own mind, thank you very much. What they should not be is peddlers of propaganda and lies; now, of course, called “alternative facts”. After all, things are bad enough these days without the attitude displayed in that journalist’s statement. So, with that off my chest, I’ll continue with my good news stories.

Now Hull, where I did my architectural training, is a fairly unique place; as you would expect from a city that is somewhat isolated geographically. Also, as if to further emphasise this uniqueness, it even boasts a street called “The Land of Green Ginger”. Something I find really heartening for some reason. It also has a claim to something else unusual and which is the subject of today’s blog.

In the mid 1980’s, a group of students and unemployed people decided to solve their own housing problems. With no previous experience, they clubbed together using their giro cheques to buy a house, property being very cheap in the area at the time. This was renovated and used as collateral, along with loans from friends, to buy four more houses which were also renovated and let out to people on low incomes and benefits. You can probably see where this is going and you’d be correct. So successful was the model that “Giroscope” set up as a registered charity in 2007 and continues its work to this day. As a result, the organisation has over 50 properties and 9 community businesses, all funded privately.

Yet, despite this commercial success, the charity still retains that ethos of meeting a social need and involving the local community that were the driving forces in setting it up in the first place. It is, in every way, a success story. It is also one of my “Little pieces of Wonderland”.

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