“When I hooked up with Erika, I had not long been a local councillor but did have a professional background in the creative economy and arts sector. In conversations with her she told me about this thing called an ‘unblocker’.

“That really resonated with me. So as a councillor, I decided that my role at Make Hamilton would be an unblocker: have knowledge, empathy and advocate for the socially-trading, creative economy sector, don’t take no for an answer, get the community into those meetings with officers and get them around the table. That proved to be vital.

Being part of this mutual aid network allows me to share what I have learned working in Wirral and the wider Liverpool City Region with hundreds of other community businesses who might also be struggling with getting local authorities to listen and to support what they want to achieve in their communities.

“I would say to other people doing this work: don’t make enemies of the council. Get to know who these people are. Find an unblocker." [tweet this]

“You possibly only need one, especially if they are a mouthy Birkenheader like me! Because when positive things are happening, even the most risk averse councils will move out the way.”

Christine Spriggs is the Labour cabinet member for culture, creative and visitor economy for Wirral. She is working with Make Hamilton, a community interest company transforming a vacant building in Wirral into a community garden, arts and cultural centre.