Uturn UK

Amount Funded:

£150,000 over five years (made in 2017)


Place - revitalising community life

Uturn UK establishes street associations in underprivileged areas.


Street Association members


"I am an elderly lady living on my own.  As soon as I heard of the Street Associations being set up, I said ‘Yes!’ to myself.  I was lonely and the Street Association helped me take my first steps toward speaking to other people on the road.  I responded to an invitation to a barbecue on the other side of the road and talked with many people.  Just yesterday, I ran into a woman I’d met throught the Street Association.  I had a happy conversation with her and it made my day. The Street Association has had a transforming effect on my life.  I feel that something lifted in the street and that real change has happened."


"I have lived in this avenue for 13 years, and for the first few years, most of the street were effectively strangers. Since the Street Association has started, the number of people we know in the street and wider has grown hugely. It is a fantastic thing to know that you are on friendly terms with the vast majority of the street. Our children have played in each other’s houses, Christmas parties, canal boat trips have all helped to break down the barriers that modern day life has thrown up.

It is wonderful to drive into our street and wave at, and be welcomed by, several different households on the way in.

Friendship groups and offers of help have blossomed, allowing people to check on the elderly and vulnerable whom they have developed bonds with through the various daytime and evening events that have bridged the generation gap.

It has improved our quality of life hugely, and given the community some heart. It has been a fantastic addition to our lives."

Uturn UK

Martin, Director.

We have a passion for creating community links. The two ladies pictured with Gina (right) of Uturn UK, were near-neighbours, but only met at one of our street events. Now they do everything together!

Multiply that by hundreds, and add in a changed atmosphere on dozens of streets, practical help for vulnerable people and an answer to isolation and you have the power of Street Associations. Events like barbecues, coach trips, Christmas parties and the like bring people from the same street together, create an atmosphere change, a sense of belonging and a ‘permission’ to engage that was otherwise absent. Thus, in Kingstanding, north Birmingham, there have been about 3,500 attendances at events covering 17 streets over two years, with many more in other areas of the West Midlands and, most recently, London.

However, as well as focusing in particular on deprived streets, the desire has been to spread more widely an easy friendliness in place of the ‘keep-yourself-to-yourself’ ethos that has become embedded in our culture. The 'Permission to Smile' campaign launched in Birmingham in May 2018 has gained the active support of 135 Birmingham organizations; schools, faith groups, medical practices, supermarkets, and community centres, plus council, chamber of commerce, and civic society. About 750 two-metre banners have gone up around the city and local events are starting to be held to bring residents together, with new Street Associations as the outcome.

Support from Esmée Fairbairn has kept us afloat when contracts or other forms of funding began to dry up for a period, and has helped to position us to take our basic concepts and expand their reach. Without Esmée, I really don’t see how we could have done what we’ve been able to do over many years.

Laurence Scott

Grants Manager, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Uturn respond to a desire among many people to be better connected within their local communities, which after decades of changing communities needed an experienced catalysing agent to help that happen.

The organisation had been successful in attracting funding contracts with a number of local authorities, but funding to cover the development of relationships in new areas to support its expansion was harder to come by. Esmée Fairbairn's core funding grant provided this small but impressive and impactful organisation with an improved degree of stability, allowing it to continue its work and take plans forward over the following five years with greater confidence.