We are a new network being developed in Brighton and the surrounding area – Mutual Aid In Sussex or MAIS.
Although co-operation and mutual aid are often talked about, it is not always easy to apply these ideals in practice. So we want to help co-operatives, small ethical business, community groups, and other like-minded people, by providing a free platform where mutual aid and support can be more easily achieved through face-to-face meet-ups and online conversations.
The precise details of how this network will work and grow will depend on those who participate, but we can say a few things about how MAIS is currently organised.
Regular face-to-face meetings: Our meetings normally happen on on the third Wednesdays of the month and start at 7PM in Coachwerks. (In November 2016, instead of our meeting on the third Wednesday of the month, we are organising a talk on housing co-ops on the 29th November. More details here: Sick of landlords? How to set up a housing co-op.)
We normally meet on a monthly basis. All are welcome – please spread the word. Please bring food to share at the meetings. These meetings provide a chance for people to introduce themselves, their projects and advertise their goods or services as well as giving space for people to ask for any help they need. Anything can be asked for – whether it’s a computer, a plumber, advice on taxes or anything else. Maybe no one will be able to help them, but from our experiences of similar networks, very often there will be. There will also be time for socialising and getting to know each other.
Membership: Membership to the network is free and open to anyone interested in the idea of mutual aid. There are no formal commitments, but obviously, as a network organised around cooperative principles, we would hope that people will help out when they can with minor tasks such as promoting the network. Clearly, if you receive help from other members it would be nice if you were able to help some one else in the future, but there are no formal structures to ensure this happens. We rely on trust and, over time, we hope a shared sense of purpose and friendship.
Promotion and Campaigning: We like to use our own experiences with mutual aid networks to expand the co-operative sector in Brighton and the surrounding area by promoting co-operatives, such as workers’, food and housing coops. We would like to do this by running workshops, holding stalls and much more. Involvement in such events is entirely up to you.
It will be free: There is no membership fees or hidden costs. However, we may decide collectively as a network that some form of contribution is mutually beneficial, to help with promoting the project, giving workshops, venue hire, etc. Any such decisions will only be taken by the group as a whole.
Email list: Although we think that face-to-face meetings are essential to establishing networks and can really nourish those involved, we recognise that email lists can help get something you need, especially when time is pressing. So we have an email list for requests for help, and to inform people of events likely to be of interest to members.
Above all, this is a chance for people to get to know one another in a structured but informal setting.
If you have any questions about MAIS, or would like to attend the first meeting, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org