Radical movements have always needed bases and spaces to meet, eat, grow and gather. Recently in the UK and Ireland there has been a conscious effort to link these social centres, info shops and resource centres whether squatted rented or bought, into a loose network that can share ideas and support each other.

In January 2007 a Social Centres Network gathering was held at the 1 in 12 Club in Bradford that was attended by people from all over the UK. There was an idea to try and make the wider project of autonomous spaces more visible and clear to the people who used social centres and the idea of this booklet was born. A call-out for essays, cartoons, reflections, and rants was put out and here are the resulting 27 pieces. Most of them are descriptive of particular places, others discuss more general questions about the idea of social centres. A few of us helped to proof and layout the booklet but the
pieces have not been edited.

As these pieces show, there is a huge diversity of projects being built from food co-ops and volunteer run vegan cafes to migrant solidarity and mental health self-help groups. At the same time we are often tackling similar issues as we experiment with self-management, working without leaders and treading the fine line between being a radical, autonomous space and also reaching out into our local communities, providing services and dealing with authorities.

We hope that this booklet will promote debate and action on the need for autonomous spaces in our cities and neighbourhoods. So now we pass over to those involved, to let the stories speak for themselves.

There are copies available FREE in all the social centres we can find and also by emailing us at socialcentrestories [at] riseup [dot] net

Copyleft- feel free to use, copy and distribute.

This booklet was supported by the ESRC funded project ‘Autonomous Geographies’ (www.autonomousgeographies.org)

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