Permission to Smile campaign

By Martin Graham
Monday, April 30th, 2018

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Launched in Birmingham in May 2018, the Permission to Smile campaign is being spearheaded by Uturn UK C.I.C., alongside it’s work in pioneering and developing Street Associations.

Working on the outer estates (as we do, through Street Associations), it is clear that one of the major barriers to local people working together for the common good is that it has come to seem ‘inappropriate’ to greet and even smile at people you don’t know.  Even people who live on the same street tend to ‘keep themselves to themselves’, looking down as they pass each other.

On the other hand, as public services recede, there is more need than ever for people to come together to do things with and for each other – such as forming a young mums’ group, a youth club, street association, neighbourhood watch, seniors’ fellowship, English conversation group, looking after vulnerable neighbours and so on.  You don’t need the council to make these things happen!

Meanwhile, social isolation gets ever more entrenched without simple opportunities for social contact – and a sense of ‘permission’ to engage with others.

The campaign seeks to address this fundamental reticence, encouraging people to smile, engage and then act together.

Uturn UK has been able to bring together a consortium of Birmingham organisations to launch the campaign, including  Birmingham Civic Society, Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Birmingham Voluntary Services Council, Birmingham City University School of Media, Birmingham Mail, many faith groups, GP surgeries and others, and with strong support from the City Council.  It is hoped that what is pioneered in Birmingham might be extended to help towns and cities around the UK to reignite real community spirit.

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