Collective Roots

Tackling health inequalities, environmental concerns and cost-of-living challenges by creating a learning garden – empowering vulnerable residents to grow their own food.

The Local Challenge

The London borough of Sutton is transforming rapidly, bringing challenges for inclusion and community cohesion. With 43% of residents from diverse ethnic backgrounds up from 29% in 2011, and 28% of local residents born outside the UK, Sutton is a vibrant mosaic of cultures. Over 80 languages are spoken, and 17% of households include non-English speakers. Recent arrivals from Hong Kong, Ukraine and Afghanistan are adding to this incredible diversity. Sutton Libraries, as community hubs, are launching a pilot programme to engage and bring together underrepresented groups, fostering a strong sense of belonging and cohesion. 


 The Initiative  

Sutton Libraries are launching a vibrant initiative to explore how creativity can create a sense of community cohesion and boost well-being through a series of inclusive activities. Starting with ‘Creative Conversations, two full-day sessions led by artists will invite local community groups to explore the central question: How do we use creativity to create a sense of belonging? Insights from these conversations have shaped artist-led workshops where community members are collaboratively creating works around ‘belonging. The initiative is culminating in a summer exhibition in libraries and high street displays, inviting reflection on how these creations enhance community connections.  


What’s Next?

In the next phase, the initiative will focus on further strengthening community ties and cultivating a sense of belonging, particularly for newcomers. Evaluating the impact on well-being and pride in Sutton, the objective is to transform local libraries into dynamic hubs of cultural interaction and to learn from libraries across Europe about similar issues including challenges such as improving digital skills and innovating how to approach sustainability and environmental responsibilities. Exhibitions featuring community artworks are designed to spark curiosity and deepen connections, inviting all to engage in shaping the collective cultural narrative.  


This is an ongoing Europe Challenge project that will be completed in autumn 2024. Stay tuned for more updates and contact if you have any questions or want to be connected with the team behind the project.

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