The first occasional newsletter from Fairfield House Bath CIC
Community asset transfer process: it’s under way at last
On 13 Aug 2020 Bath & NE Somerset (B&NES) Council, which owns Fairfield House, accepted the expression of interest submitted by Fairfield House Bath CIC June 2019 in taking a long lease on Fairfield House. It’s a crucial step on the long journey to securing the future of HIM’s legacy.
For some time B&NES, Bemsca and the Friends of Fairfield House community association have felt the right way to secure the future of HIM’s legacy is via the Council’s “community asset transfer” process. To embark on that process it was necessary to set up a company (Fairfield House Bath CIC) with which B&NES could enter into such a process. Fairfield House Bath CIC - company # 11901221 was incorporated 23 March 2019.
Now that the expression of interest is accepted, the next steps are for B&NES and the CIC to draft a heads of terms and partnership agreement. The Council then anticipates a lengthy process of working through the business plan with the new CIC before finalising contracts and lease.
Ethiopian World Federation visits Fairfield
Fairfield House Bath CIC was pleased to receive a visit from Ras Tinnish and colleagues from the Ethiopian World Federation Incorporated London Local 3 (EWF inc) in October. EWF members raised questions about Fairfield House and how HIM’s legacy would be protected. Ras Benji, Pauline Swaby and William Heath answered these to the best of our ability.
The EWF also sent questions in writing after the meeting. The questions and answers are available online here.
Fairfield House mentioned in Parliament
Bath MP Wera Hobhouse mentioned her visit to Fairfield House in Parliament 21 October 2020, in the House of Commons black history month debate.
Bath MP Wera Hobhouse briefs the Commons about Fairfield House (see Hansard). Not the first time HIM has been mentioned in Parliament of course (see all references here).
Her comments follow the Bath MP’s first visit to Fairfield House on 16 Oct 2020. Mrs Hobhouse and her husband William were shown round Fairfield and met Bemsca Elders, staff and volunteers. Sonia in the Fairfield kitchen excelled herself with a tender curried goat (marinated two days) which none of us will forget in a hurry.
Ras Benji (left) explained the culture and history associated with Fairfield House to Bath MP Wera Hobhouse.
B&NES Council Leader Dine Romero visits Fairfield
On Fri 3 Oct B&NES Council Leader Dine Romero visited Fairfield House. She met Bemsca staff and elders and Fairfield House Bath CIC. Ms Romero is the LibDem political leader for B&NES which owns Fairfield House, and would chair the key cabinet meetings that would reach any decisions about its future. She wanted to see for herself the life of the house and condition of the building.
It’s a B&NES reunion in the Fairfield kitchen as former B&NES social worker Sonia (left), and Sonia in the middle - still employed by B&NES - meet Council leader Dine Romero.
New sacred garden on site of HIM’s Ethiopian chapel
Above: the site overgrown with brambles earlier this year.
Below: New sacred garden installed by volunteers from EWF inc Local 3 and the Rastafari Community.
Schools BHM project; response
A Fairfield House/Imperial Voice project team of Ras Benji, William Heath, Mr Bunny, Penny Wickson and Mark deLisser set out to produce schools assembly presentations for Black History Month. The project was scrupulously managed by Renee Jacobs.
The team produced two presentations:
one assembly for local schoolchildren (see version narrated by Renee and William here) presenting HIM as Bath’s most globally famous resident, and
one class or assembly exploring the history of HIM (see version prepared and narrated by Ras Benji here) aimed at children anywhere in the country.
Initially it was hard to get schools interested, until B&NES equality officer Louise Murphy emailed all schools across Bath and NE Somerset with the offer. At that point demand took off with over 30 schools eventually using the material.
Selection of reactions from local schools to Fairfield’s BHM presentations:
"it went down really well" "Brilliant session; superb"
“That was great! The children found it so interesting and it worked really well...the important message from the assembly was very clear” "It was awesome; thank you so much...RS dept thrilled with how it went today"
“Great stuff. Good thought provoking film”
“Thank you so much for your fantastic assemblies this week – it was great for the children to see your face as you spoke.”
“I can tell from the responses over chat that people found it really interesting and will talk to their colleagues about it”
“Year 3s puzzled by fascists [aren’t we all - Ed] but were bopping away to reggae and impressed by his wild pets”
"thank you so much; incredibly powerful; very well pitched answers"
“That was amazing - Ive had so much feedback already and it's only been 10 minutes... People are asking me what can they do about changing the curriculum”
Imperial Voice Radio: Mr Bunny
Meet the Board
Community consultation: how do we do it?
“HIM’s deed of gift: “in appreciation of the warm welcome extended to Him by the people of Bath has graciously offered to donate said freehold and leasehold properties to the Corporation [of Bath] for use as a home for aged people…”
Occasional newsletter produced by Fairfield House Bath CIC, 2 Kelston Road Bath. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org