Makespace’s Commitment to Equity, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We believe everyone has a right to safe, secure, affordable, accessible and beautiful spaces in which to live, work, create, organise, and ultimately develop a sense of belonging, rooted in community.

Renewing our commitments to Equity, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EEDI)

We are working to deepen our connection with our communities and remaking our commitment to equality, equity, diversity and inclusion in five important aspects of Makespace Oxford’s work:

Cross cutting commitments

The following cut across and interconnect with multiple priorities

  • 1

    At least 40% of organisations across all the Makespace Oxford hubs will be supporting people with protected characteristics, including people who identify as Black and People of Colour; part of the Global Majority*. This includes those living with a disability, identifying as LGBTQI+ and other intersectionalities.

  • 2

    Maintaining and expanding our commitment to Community Wealth Building as a strategy to tackle inequality - through our involvement in Owned by Oxford Steering group, partnership with grassroots organisations, advocacy across our resident community and with anchor institutions in Oxfordshire.

  • 3

    Launching a solidarity peer support series - learning events to act as a resource aimed at enabling solidarity, mutual assistance and collective support for marginalised and excluded working class and minoritised creatives.

“Pervasive structural class inequalities present in the creative sector where issues of gender and ethnicity also compound inequalities of access…Attempts to make the arts more open and diverse have not had sufficient impact yet – what is needed is deep rooted reforms in career support and in hiring and promotion practices.”

Various, ‘Social Mobility and ‘Openness’ in Creative Occupations since the 1970s’

1. Dismantling institutional and structural racism

Makespace Oxford is an anti-racist organisation.

We have made some serious mistakes in our past. Through our encounters with race we have come closer to seeing and understanding the growing need to address our own inherent power and privilege as a historically white-led organisation. We continue to do so with courage and commitment.

As a small, young organisation, we have been engaging with EEDI through a focus on racial justice – to build up sustained, intersectional engagement which influences our policies and practice.  

Since our statement in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement in July 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, we have been enacting and developing a Racial Justice Programme, supported by Evoke Consulting. This programme contains a range of strands, to be shared on request, and encompasses all our key commitments.

Going forwards, we will continue to focus on addressing institutional racism and working in coalition to address structural racism across organisations and sectors.

A summary of our 2023-24 racial justice commitments are:

1. At least 40% of organisations will be supporting people with protected characteristics across all the Makespace Oxford hubs, including people who identify as Black and People of Colour; part of the *Global Majority.

2. The creation of a hub space for global majority-led organisations and those supporting global majority communities at the Source  in Oxford City Centre, a location where the majority of wealth in the city is located and from where global majority-led groups are all too often excluded.

3. Developing and enacting an inclusive recruitment policy and approach which is designed to minimise unconscious bias and increase representation of black and ethnically minoritised groups in our team and board

4. Continued commitment to our internal Racial Justice Programme which includes,

  • Monthly actions and progress reporting against our Racial Justice Action Plan
  • Continuing regular Racial Justice Reflection Sessions, deepening our understanding of and relationship to key issues around race and space

5. Developing a supply chain and resources which support Global Majority-led organisations and those promoting racial justice

“As a reflective, evolving organisation which embraces continuous learning, we have been turning inwards to take an honest, holistic look at our collective experiences of institutional racism and its unintended impacts on team members from global majority communities. We are remaking our commitment to dismantling institutional and structural racism within our team and across our communities, recognising this work needs ongoing care”

Andy Edwards, Executive Director of Makespace Oxford

2. Confronting Social Inequality

Both Oxford and Oxfordshire are often associated with wealth and prestige, however Oxford is also one of the least affordable cities in the UK and one of the most unequal. 

The same can be said for the wider county, where many rural areas, market towns and neighbourhoods are experiencing considerable deprivation and neglect, whilst other areas are home to the richest 0.1%.

Land ownership and access to space are rooted in our colonial history. In this country over half the land is owned by less than 1% of its citizens. In Oxford, the ownership of land and buildings is deeply divided across race and class lines.

We are committing to unlocking spaces and making them accessible at affordable rates to grassroots community groups, charities, co-operatives, makers, dreamers and purpose driven businesses. We are also committed to supporting organisations to learn from our approach and do it for themselves.

We are developing a fair rent policy that seeks to balance our organisational need for sustainability with affordability for each resident organisation – based on their size, model and income.

We champion the public provision of free community spaces and the expansion of the commons – which should be accessible to all.  Makespace’s model should not be seen as a substitute for the role of the state and the inalienable human right or access to clean air, public green space and publicly owned community spaces.

Our 2023-24 commitments to tackling social inequality include:

  1. Implementing our Fair Rent strategy and policy – Continued implementation and development of our rental strategy which strives to make our spaces affordable for all types of groups, and adopts a tiered approach, to create a solidarity economy where those who can, pay to support less established groups
  2. Tailored technical supportDevelop free and accessible support for global majority led and working class groups seeking to access space
  3. Grant support – Specifically continuing to raise funds to remove the costs of accessing space, where any cost is a barrier
  4. Advocating for the commons – Championing the need for publicly owned and freely accessible space for communities to access green space and nature, come together, celebrate, connect and organise

3. Championing gender and sexuality equality

Makespace Oxford is committed to creating spaces which are welcoming and accessible to all genders and sexualities.  

This is an ongoing area of inquiry where we recognise we have much to learn and even more to gain by ensuring our spaces are truly welcoming and accessible to all. 

We are committed to listening and responding to those leading the discourse around queering public spaces and creating spaces for and by LGBTQ+ communities. This is informed by our engagements with T(Art) Productions, OPL and YWMP amongst others in our community. With and through these groups and resources we are providing allies training to team members. 

Our 2023-24 commitments to promoting gender and sexuality equality include:

  1. No gender pay gap – We have an open and transparent pay structure and ensure that there is no gender pay gap between members in equivalent roles
  2. Flexible working – To ensure our team members can work around parenting and any other caring responsibilities
  3. Gender neutral toilets To ensure that bathrooms are a safe space for everyone, we will always make sure there are gender neutral bathrooms in each of our hub spaces
  4. Free period products in all our hub spaces – We believe everyone deserves free access to sanitary resources. We make these available in all our hub spaces and are actively supporting Wings’ terrific work with affordable space
  5. Safer spaces – We are developing a safer spaces policy with our community of residents which learns from those leading in curating more inclusive and safer venues and events.
  6. Space for work and play – We are developing a concept for PlaySpaces which are accessible to both children, carers and parents, recognising the lack of free or affordable activities targeted at adults with children and caring responsibilities
  7. Support for women-led businesses and those of all marginalised genders – We are giving a particular focus to making space and support available to women-led groups and enterprises. We are proud that over 70% of our residents are women-led organisations. We are committed to expanding this, providing greater support and space for all marginalised genders – recognising that trans and non-binary people are also often underrepresented or excluded from accessing space.

4. Upending Ableism and widening Accessibility

Revitalising old and unused spaces often means there are accessibility barriers to address. To enable all our communities to thrive, Makespace Oxford undertakes training to recognise and eliminate barriers, working towards inclusive access across all our buildings. We also work with expert consultants and professionals to help us broaden the accessibility of our spaces.

We are listening to leaders in our communities, to consider how spaces can be adapted for both different physical needs and neurodivergence. 

  1. We are working towards ensuring all of our hub spaces are physically accessible, with step-free access and accessible bathrooms.
  2. We conduct access audits for all new projects, prioritising spaces with the potential for widening access to citizens with different access needs.
  3. Implementing physical access improvements for wheelchair users and considering wider areas covered by the Equalities Act 2010 during the refurbishment process.
  4. Supporting organisations working in mental health and supporting individuals with different abilities with technical support and affordable workspace.

5. Meeting the ecological crisis

Our story begins with the repurposing of empty buildings and underused spaces, recognising that the most sustainable building is the one you don’t have to build. This remains our passion and focus.

When considering both the buildings we occupy and the materials we use to refurbish them, we are working to build a circular economy by championing reuse and repair at every opportunity.

We are committed to supporting and learning from both founding and newer members of our resident community who are leading the charge in tackling the climate and ecological crisis. This includes founding residents Share Oxford, Community Action Groups and Transition by Design, alongside newer members of our community, such as Doughnut Economics, Good Food Oxfordshire, Down to Earth Cafe, Sustainable Didcot and Bicester Green.

Our 2023-24 commitments to tackling the ecological crisis are:

  1. Maintaining our commitment to repurposing and reusing building, spaces and materials
  2. Across all meanwhile spaces prioritise installing furniture, fittings, energy systems and upgrades which are modular and can be de-installed for reuse in future meanwhile spaces
  3. Seeking opportunities to carry out energy efficiency improvements and low energy retrofits in all new projects 
  4. All buildings powered by 100% renewable electricity wherever we have control of the utilities 
  5. Exploring growing food and greening spaces for ecological health in all buildings with outdoor or green spaces
  6. Supporting organisations committed to tackling the climate emergency, sustainable food, and building the circular economy with technical support and affordable spaces.

These commitments are forming part of evolving actions plans and a monitoring framework. This work is continually being revised and strengthened as we learn, take on feedback and seek to grow. We look forward to publicly reporting on progress against each area in December 2023.