The Feeling's Mutual: ‘Collectivise like mad’ – how to rewire a system broken by market forces

Mutual aid means that we look out for each other: you support me and I support you. In the wake of Covid-19, thousands of new groups have been set up on these principles. But is there a danger of losing the 'mutual'? In The Feeling's Mutual podcast series, hosts Bob Thust, Maff Potts invite guests to explore this question and offer their potential solutions. Episode five sees guest hosts Vidhya Alakeson and Angela Fell take control...

Love podcasts? Don't miss out on ours! Catch up on all our podcasts and subscribe free on Apple PodcastsSpotify or Soundcloud.

In this special episode, guest hosts Vidhya Alakeson and Angela Fell are taking over the podcast to explore the role of mutuality in improving neighbourhoods. 

Vidhya is the founder and CEO of Power to Change, an independent charitable trust that supports and develops community businesses in England; and Angela set up RIPEN, a training and development company, in 2016.

They talk to Neil McInroy, CEO of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), and Jess Steele, director of Jericho Road Solutions, an organisation that helps local leaders improve their neighbourhoods.

The conversation starts from the observation that community action at the local level happens in spite of, rather than thanks to, the current system. A profound rewiring is needed – but how do we go about it? How can the system be changed to enable communities to improve places? 

Hosts and guests debate solutions at all levels, from the need to understand the granular level of the neighbourhood to the broad questions of what values rule the world.

Instead of framing communities as an alternative or replacement to local government, as is sometimes the case, the speakers look at how grassroot movements can collaborate with state entities to improve the system – a system mostly broken by market forces.

“Too much of our wealth is extracted outside of our communities, by distant shareholders, by large corporates,” says Neil.

The flourishing of community businesses, social enterprises, co-ops, democratic ownership, are all fundamentally important because that rewires a system

“Ownership is fundamental here. We need to make sure that there is a more direct, intimate relationship between those that produce goods and services, and who owns that activity. The flourishing of community businesses, social enterprises, co-ops, democratic ownership, are all fundamentally important because that rewires a system.”

In the face of market forces eroding both society and the planet, says Neil, “we need to collectivise like mad. We need to commune like mad. And we need to do great things… and once we get that to work, we need to sing about it.”

Jess says: “Helping people to build agency, both in their own lives but particularly collective agency, in the sense that us, together, we can change things, is probably the most important thing that all of us can do on a day-to-day basis… building a strong sense that things can be different, and that you can start now.”

Listen to the full podcast by clicking above, or search for 'Pioneers Post Podcast' wherever you get your audio stories. To share your feedback or join future discussions in this series, contact

Podcast edited by Laura Joffre.


Thanks for reading Pioneers Post and listening to our podcasts. As an entrepreneur or investor yourself, you'll know that producing quality work doesn't come free. We rely on our subscribers to sustain our journalism – so if you think it's worth having an independent, specialist media platform that covers social enterprise stories, please consider subscribing. You'll also be buying social: Pioneers Post is a social enterprise itself, reinvesting all our profits into helping you do good business, better.