Social Streets C.I.C is a not-for-profit media company with a social mission. We work to increase participation in the local community because we believe a strong and thriving local community, bound by thick networks, is essential for the wellbeing of its people.
We do this in a variety of ways.
We are growing a network of hyperlocal publications for neighbourhoods. Our flagship title is Roman Road LDN in East London. We bring together local emerging talent to work collaboratively on high-quality editorial content about their local area, providing a truly community-led platform.
We are designing a platform for hyperlocal publishers, based on our learnings, that will help support the growth of other hyperlocal publications. Our software will put community content at the heart of the editorial publication.
We offer a complete range of media services, from print, digital, design, social media to events, allowing us to be an effective media partner for local communities.
We offer digital skills training and mentoring to help the community make the most of the digital infrastructure we build in the local area.
We help place makers, community development organisations, local authorities, business improvement districts and neighbourhood forums to build a community around their place.
We love a good story, and here’s ours…
The idea for Social Streets C.I.C was created to help revitalise a high street in one of the most deprived boroughs in the UK, Roman Road in Bow, Tower Hamlets.
Too small to attract investment from local authorities or BIDs, Roman Road was left to languish. This resulted in high vacancy rates, high levels of business churn, low footfall and a lack of engagement from the local community. The local economy – and by extension the community it served – became stagnant and invisible.
Yet like all neighbourhoods, Roman Road was rich with history, heritage, local heroes, historic shops, culture, art, community groups, architecture and, most importantly, community spirit. Local arts, heritage, cultural and charitable organisations were generating inspiring and valuable work, yet they were struggling to reach their audiences due to poor communications infrastructure.
Local resident Tabitha Stapely decided to create brand and a set of digital publishing platforms to help people fall in love with their local neighourhood. Applying best practice editorial skills, Stapely worked with local partners to create high-quality content and events, to create a sense of identity and place, to celebrate the unique heritage, to promote local shops and businesses, to showcase local heroes and community groups – ultimately creating a sense of civic price that would lead to increased participation and resilience in the high street.
In 2014 Roman Road was digitally invisible. Now Roman Road LDN ranks first page on Google for a multitude of key search terms, has thousands of social media follower and attracts media attention from around the UK. In 2016, just two years after Roman Road LDN was set up, 12,000 people visited Roman Road Festival.
From digitally invisible to 12,000 visitors in just two years.
Social mission and constitution
Social Streets’ Vision is for a resilient and cohesive local community, and a thriving local economy that generates opportunity for all.
Our Mission is to promote citizenship and community development; to develop a strong network of empowering community connections; to inspire people to participate in the community; to promote the local economy; to increase employability skills in young people, and to provide opportunity to local people.
We will achieve this by providing the digital infrastructure and content necessary to promote the local economy; facilitate local communication; provide connections between those in power and those in need; to increase real world participation in the local high street and local community; to generate collaboration and opportunity within the community, and to provide training, apprenticeships and opportunity for young local people within the digital, creative and media industries.
Social Streets is a registered non-profit community interest company 08533645. This means our Articles of Association includes a clear social mission and we have an asset lock that ensures profits are retained for the benefit of the community and not used for private gain.
As a social enterprise, our aim is to become financially sustainable. However we are not there yet. Until that time, we rely on donations, grants, sponsorship from corporate social responsibility departments, and cross-subsidisation from our education programme in order to operate. To support our work please contact founder and director Tabitha Stapely.
Founder Tabitha Stapely comes from the world of digital publishing where she worked as a content strategist and digital director for Hearst Magazines on titles including Elle, Red, Esquire, Handbag and Harpers, and previously The Telegraph Saturday Magazine.
Stapely left her career in glossy magazines to help make a difference in the world of social enterprises. She takes skills developed from global media brands and uses them to promote people and projects that benefit the community.
Stapely is an Alumna of Cambridge Social Ventures, where her venture Social Streets was incubated with the support of business mentors, legal and financial advisors from Cambridge Judge Business School. She is an RSA Fellow.
Stapely is also CEO of community development organisation Roman Road Trust where she campaigns for local authorities to work in partnership with community organisations; advises on the Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Plan; and is leading a multi-million pound project to develop an under-used car park at the heart Roman Road in East London into a multi-functional community-run space.
Founder Tabitha Stapely comes from the world of digital publishing where she worked as a content strategist and digital director for Hearst Magazines on titles including Elle, Red, Esquire, Handbag and Harpers, and previously The Telegraph Saturday Magazine. Stapely is also CEO of community development organisation Roman Road Trust where she works to help improve community capacity and community governance.
Nicolas is Impact Partnerships Manager at Simprints, a tech non-profit that works to remove the identification gap. A telecommunications engineer and MBA by education, he has formerly held corporate customer and business relationship management positions within large multinationals in wide range of sectors.
Born in East London, Will is a local resident in Tower Hamlets. He is currently completing an MBA at the University of Cambridge and his background is in Management Consulting.
Belinda is a social entrepreneur with extensive experience in establishing, supporting and growing organisations that bridge the public, private and third sectors. She continues to contribute to academic research and writing at the University of Cambridge, including the new Master of Studies in Social Innovation.
Theory of Change
Social Streets C.I.C was incubated at Cambridge Social Ventures, a year long incubation programme at Cambridge Judge Business School. During this time we established Social Street’s Theory of Change. This is a pyramid flow chart that demonstrates how our activities lead to outcomes that deliver social impact.