In conversation: POoR Collective

Power Out of Restriction Collective – better known as POoR Collective – is a London-based social enterprise dedicated to the development of communities within the built environment and driving positive social change. A talented and driven group of Royal College of Art-trained architects and designers, an accountant and a videographer, their varied, community-focused projects have a common aim: to empower those who are often under-represented and to inspire young people as to what’s possible and available for them.

During one drizzly October afternoon, Wandsworth Art sat down with Matt, Larry, Shawn and Ben from POoR over Zoom to learn more about what they do, what they stand for, and what they’re out to change. You can watch the filmed conversation above.

An inspiring example of what’s possible when your vision is big and your actions are bold, POoR told us about their journey so far, the power of collective action, and their upcoming project at Carney’s Community in Battersea, which will see them collaborate with local young people on a mural to adorn the outside of Carney’s.

They also spoke about the fantastic work of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, decolonising the educational curriculum, the urgent need for diversity of thought in the architecture and design industries, and how those in leaderships positions must invite young people to join them at the table.

There was also some career advice for young people and how they can be the change they want to see. As Shawn Adams, who went to secondary school in Wandsworth, put it:

This year, we have seen a lot of power in collective action. During the pandemic we’ve seen communities having to come together to support the elderly. We’ve seen the Black Lives Matter movement sweep the globe as people come together and protest against racial inequalities. If I was to give any advice to young people it would be that their voices are so valuable and important but by working together their voices can be amplified. That’s something that’s really at the crux of POoR: we each have our individual voices but by coming together and joining those voices collectively we can really start to drive change.”

To find out more about the amazing work that POoR Collective do and for updates on their upcoming project at Carney’s Community, follow them on social media @poorcollective and check out their website. As they mention in the video, they warmly encourage young people looking for advice or introductions to get in touch.

“Our vision is a world where youth see no limit. Success to us would look like a real cultural shift in how young people view their own agency in the built environment, how they chase opportunities to have their voice heard, and for many venues to open up for them to pursue that.”

Ben Spry, POoR Collective