Jess Steele

I work for Jericho Road Solutions, a very small social enterprise named after Martin Luther King’s assertion that it’s all very well playing the Good Samaritan but in fact we need to transform the Jericho Road so that people are not robbed and beaten as they make their way on life’s journey.

I am a founder director of the Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust, which is working to take the sting out of gentrification in the White Rock area and to support bottom up, DIY Regen and community self-build in Ore Valley.

I spent six years working for Locality, previously the Development Trusts Association. In 2007 I set up the DTA’s consultancy service, the Pool, drawing on the grassroots expertise of practitioners throughout the development trust movement. Alongside providing high-quality advice and support on community enterprise and community assets, the Pool also developed experimental work for the DTA, including the original Advancing Assets for Communities programme and the Community Sector Trading virtual learning approach. From 2013 to 2015 I helped to develop COLtd as the legacy body for the Community Organisers programme.

Back in 2009 I completed a 5-month secondment to Communities & Local Government where I took the policy lead for assets and specifically developed new policy on ‘meanwhile uses’ of empty town centre premises. I then led the DTA’s Meanwhile Project to bring empty shops into new community uses ‘while the recession lasts’. I am a non-executive director of Meanwhile Space CIC, a proud founder member of the Meanwhile Ning and I led on the development of the Meanwhile Foundation, a new national charity to make meanwhile use easier.

All my work bridges policy and practice and aims to bring practitioners into a more central role in shaping policy.

Before joining the DTA in 2007, I was Deputy Chief Executive of the British Urban Regeneration Association for three years, responsible for developing and overseeing events and projects, training, awards and sharing best practice, as well as strategic leadership, staff development and building membership within the voluntary, community and academic sectors.

My background as a community activist and entrepreneur in Deptford & New Cross, South East London included leading the award-winning ‘Get Set for Citizenship’ regeneration programme and establishing numerous social enterprises including a publishing company, an environmental consultancy, a children’s nursery, and a community finance company. I founded the creative outreach charity Magpie Resource Library and published extensively on local history.

From direct experience at Magpie and then as a member of the National Community Forum I developed the Community Allowance proposals to allow community organisations to pay local people to do sessional/part-time community work without it affecting their benefits.

I live in and work from Hastings and played a lead role in the Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust from its foundation in 2008. After we successfully handed over the pier project to Hastings Pier Charity, I was a director of the White Rock Trust until August 2015, aiming to capture the benefits of the pier rejuvenation for the whole neighbourhood.

Areas of policy expertise include asset based development and asset transfer, local community enterprise, genuine welfare reform, community organising, meanwhile use, and seaside regeneration.

Alongside all that I have a 16-year old daughter, a supportive partner and a very scruffy dog. My plates are always spinning…

thanks to Nic Greenan of Leeds 14 for this link to Spinning Plates by Middleman

7 Responses to Jess Steele

  1. Pingback: Kill Wonga: Or How Could Housing Associations Work With Community Organisers? « Housing Associations

  2. Radhika says:

    Hi Jess. I came across your blog when researching Deptford – and I am so glad I found it! We met only once or twice at Community Links, but I’ve thought of you whenever I’ve seen Hastings Pier mentioned anywhere – and especially when I saw the news a couple of weeks ago. All that campaigning and hard work paid off in the end. 10 mins on your blog even had me re-read Dr King’s A Time To Break Silence… Hope we bump into each other again. R

    • jesssteele says:

      Good to hear from you and thanks. So glad you went back to MLK – endlessly inspiring! I find making time to blog really hard – looks like you do too (“Hello World!”)

  3. Radhika says:

    Hello Jess. I work at The Young Foundation and we are looking at the tender docs for the Village SOS programme. I know that Locality were involved in the last round. I wonder whether anyone on that team would be willing to talk to me? I know this is sensitive stuff, but I thought it would be worth asking. My work email is and 07917 605050 Radhika

  4. Pingback: Turning the Tide? Deptford regeneration event 25 April | 171bus

  5. Pingback: Regeneration Then and Now : 21 Years of Urban Change in Deptford by Francisco Calafate |

  6. Pingback: Turning the Tide | Spinning Plates

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