I wanted to share a short part of the interview I did with Ben Szobody for my Beyond Work project. Some of his projects are picking up the pieces of failed policies on both sides of the political fence. It is essential work for some of the most vulnerable people in society, especially in Brighton and Hove.
First off, the fact we need people doing this kind of work means there is a failure in society to look after the many. Second, it's bloody amazing that someone like Ben, and many others do this work. But we are going to need a thousand Ben's to deal with what looks like a continuation of a Tory government on Friday, and that means there will be an even greater need for us all to do this kind of work in our communities.
"My name is Ben, Benjamin Paul Szobody. I live in a terraced house in Hollingdean in Brighton, UK, with six children, a wife and a lovely housemate.
The organisation I work for is called One Church; it's a bit unconventional, it's a bit Brighton. One Church is a church, and the people of faith meet as a church in one of the buildings. One Church is also larger and more inclusive than this; One Church is a registered charity and a community of people, not all of whom are religious, who are oriented around social projects aimed at the most vulnerable people in Brighton.
My main job consists of three main pieces, I run a farmers market where you can buy quality local produce, I manage a building in central Brighton where we do loads of stuff for vulnerable people, and I support a farm project where we grow food alongside people that need to get out of the city and who need help.
Some of the projects in the building One Church run include a homeless shelter through the winter months on Wednesday evenings, a project called Chomp that tries to deal with food poverty during the school holidays when people miss their free school meals, a project called know my neighbour, that is attempting to get at the root of social isolation by encouraging people to do the simplest of things, which is to be aware of who their neighbour is and we also run a barista training project, and that's one of mine that I manage and run. We offer unemployed young people top shelf barista training.
One of the central struggles of my life is to balance the day to day sprinting around which ultimately is what sharing a building requires, with that grand vision. The whole reason I was attracted here was the vision of making a profound difference in the city. It's not so different from the journalistic impulse, which is 'I want to change society for the better'. I might be able to do that as an investigative journalist, or I might be able to do that as a hub in Brighton that flips the paradigm on its head as often as possible in favour of vulnerable people. If we are a building where a certain type of music is known to be played, if we are a building where food waste is being harnessed and being put to use for the poor, if we are a place where the most brilliant ideas can go to be nourished and grown, if we're a centre where social projects find their feet and brilliant food and drink is knitting people together, that's the vision. When you look at how big this building is, when you look at what's possible, then you think we're not half-way there yet."