As 2020 comes to a close, the Local Matters team joins millions of others in looking back at the past twelve months. For us, this was the year that we built our foundation.
In January of this year, Local Matters was nothing but an idea. Since then, we have planted our flag on several social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Patreon, Telegram and even Spotify.
Laying the groundwork for Local Matters was made easier by the various Coronavirus lockdowns across the UK, allowing members of our team to take time away from their jobs and outdoor hobbies to instead develop our online presence through social media and digital content. It is admittedly daunting to create a Facebook page and to see zero followers, because your worst nightmare is that it will never be much more than that, no matter the confidence in your ideas or ability. We have not forgotten this feeling, which is why we are sincerely grateful for all of the support we have received thus far, from our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers to our generous Patrons. Thank you.
However, our first year as a formal organisation has not been without obstacles to overcome, as it has been a difficult year for most people around the world. Although the lockdown aided us by keeping us indoors, it has been a double-edged sword: when the time came for activism, with activists and supporters prepared to volunteer on the ground, we found ourselves restricted by travel and business restrictions. Particularly in regards to social events, several planned activities have been cancelled or postponed due to Coronavirus. Additionally, we received a shock when our Instagram account was suspended without reason, especially as this is our highest-engagement platform. For around a week, we awaited a response from their moderation team. Finally, after another prompt from us, they confirmed that the account was “suspended by mistake”, and it was fortunately reinstated. For this reason, we created a channel on Telegram, where organisations are not suspended – so for the most secure and up-to-date information, follow us at t.me/localmatters.
Despite these setbacks, we have successfully carried out two successful actions, one specifically in Manchester and one which stretched from Liverpool to Kent. Our flyer action (hyperlink) in support of small businesses was well received on social media and on the ground, with dozens of businesses happy to display our flyer in their window. This action also brought great internal benefit too, providing a first taste of activism to many of our new supporters who were eager to get involved, which only served to further increase their appetite for activism and Localism. The more recent action in Manchester (hyperlink) held a similar message, promoting small English businesses over large international corporations, but this time we utilised a banner and a megaphone, specifically protesting the abusive global labour markets which supplies fast-fashion outlets such as Primark. This action was also well received online. There are many elements involved in an action, far more than simply holding a banner and posting a photograph of it in a tweet, and we are fortunate to have such a great team who utilise the content of the action to its full potential. Both actions were promoted with photographs alongside a dedicated video, with write-ups on our website and promotion across all of our social media platforms.
We end the year on an upward trajectory, one which will inevitably continue to rise as we step forward confidently into the new year. With us, firstly, we bring a continuation of our activism for small English businesses. Our actions against fast-fashion will continue, with a number of projects already in progress. We look forward to extending, expanding and increasing the volume of activism in the new year, especially once lockdown restrictions subside. In addition, we are excited to see what opportunities await us in 2021, from collaborating with other like-minded organisations to reactive activism and organisational development.
As we solidify ourselves ideologically, we find our confidence stronger than ever. We will begin the new year by presenting Localism: A Manifesto For a Twenty-First Century England – a short book which will clearly summarise the philosophical tenets of Localism specifically in the context of England today, offering a vision of a regenerated England which finds its strength in an organic foundation formed of its local communities. The book will be available to pre-order from January 1st, and will be released on February 1st. We hope that you will invest in us by ordering this book in order to access an in-depth definition of English Localism.
Again, to all of our followers, supporters, donors and volunteers, thank you for your support and efforts in 2020, which we hope you will continue in 2021.
Happy new year from the Local Matters team