The idea for the coalition came about when a group of Hackney citizens active in their respective communities came together in early 2009 to discuss the then frightening rise in popularity and electoral success of a far right racist party.
We were concerned that in elections run on proportional representation a low voter turnout in Hackney could contribute to electoral success for the far right. This led to discussions with the national campaign: HOPE not hate, and a local voter registration and engagement campaign. The response was remarkable, with the emergence of a coalition that included faith, peace, community, trade union and tenants groups.
Following the successful campaign, a number of the participants once again came together, this time to review the project. It was felt that the powerful coalition we had put together was too important to simply dismantle, and it was agreed to organize a loose but permanent structure that would make it easier to address community concerns in a practical way, a body that could enable the community to express its wishes to the Local Authority and other public, private sectors or interest groups.
At the heart of this initiative was a sense that if our communities got organised and worked together we could actually create positive change (as opposed to merely protesting against a variety of ills).
Bema (formerly BEMA – the Black & Ethnic Minority Arts Network)
Hackney and Islington CND
Hackney Planning Watch
London (trade union) Organisers Network
North East London Anti-Racist Alliance