David Cameron wants a ‘big society’, a country where communities look after each other and put in effort to solve their own problems. Although his idea sounds like a good one the government has found it neigh on impossible to make happen. Then all of a sudden two people come along with an idea that could help regenerate community pride and cohesion with a web-based project called Streetlife.
Like most good ideas, Streetlife.com is a social network based around communicating online about things offline. Users can talk with individuals, groups and even local businesses signed up to the site with the aim of sharing advice, opinion, skill sets and resources. Another important aim is reinvigorating neighbourhood watch schemes – even if that is in the virtual space. This was born after one of the founders returned home to discover he had been burgled and with no way of informing neighbours to be vigilant decided to create Streetlife.
The pilot of Streetlife took place in Wandsworth, London in summer 2010. Surprisingly 8,000 people registered to arrange events, build groups and share services. Users recommended ‘good’ plumbers, dentists and babysitters (not sure we would recommend babysitters). Users have reported a distinct change in the area with less litter, graffiti and anti-social behaviour.
A recent study by YouGov has discovered that 51% on UK residents feel there is either no or at best a very weak community spirit in their neighbourhood. Streetlife has now extended their network to cover the entire nation in a bid to strengthen bonds and although the press release didn’t say it help out the government in the process.
Matt Boyes, CEO of streetlife.com, explained: “Our research shows that people do want to take more of an interest in their community, but a lack of information and connections with other local people are the main barriers. Our pilot in Wandsworth has shown that Streetlife can play a huge part in overcoming the hurdles that stand in the way of a more civic society. Whether it’s joining a neighbourhood watch or organising a large-scale local campaign, Streetlife makes it easier for people to become involved.”
When we registered for our area there wasn’t much going on and a lot of ‘we’ve just launched in your area’ type messages. We hope that more people do sign up and that a National campaign is pushed out bring awareness to the site because it feels a little empty in the south west at the moment (we are sure London etc is thriving?).
Have you heard of Streetlife? Does it sound like a good idea to you?