Echo started back in 2012, as a network of neighbours in East London sharing skills. Starting small, we helped local people get their bikes fixed, practice languages, learn to bake. And pretty soon, businesses wanted in on the action – from local theatres to yoga teachers, tech startups to universities, all trading skills and resources for time, instead of money.
Since then, we’ve grown the network to more than 5,500 members. We’ve facilitated more than 20,000 hours of skill exchange, and countless more connections and opportunities for our members and the wider community.
Now, more than 7 years since the first Echo exchange took place, we’ve been asking ourselves what we can do to make an even bigger impact here in East London, and beyond.
One of the biggest things we’ve learned over the years is that Echo has the greatest impact when working closely with other kinds of community infrastructure – from coworking spaces and cafes and community hubs to festivals.
This is where the magic happens – bringing our digital network ‘offline’ to connect people in real life, and enable them to do great things together, from learning a new skill to starting a project, launching a business, or forging a new collaboration.
And, this is why we’re really thrilled to announce that we are joining forces with Civic.
Civic is a social enterprise that helps transform neighbourhoods by bringing new life to forgotten spaces and assets, unlocking the latent imagination and initiative of communities and spreading great ideas that work.
They work across the UK and globally, with projects ranging from reimagining libraries as community hubs in Cambridgeshire, to developing vital community infrastructure in Azraq refugee camp, Jordan. And right here in East London, they’re currently working with the residents of Custom House to transform 7 empty shops into productive community spaces.
Our partnership with Civic will enable us to bring the best of both organisations together – anchoring Echo’s network into physical spaces, and using the Echo currency and methodology to unlock skills and capacity across Civic’s global communities.
Together, our combined teams, resources and networks will maximise our impact, starting right here in East London, using the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Custom House as our launchpad.
We’ll be sharing more updates on what we’re working on soon, and you can read a detailed FAQ on what this merge means for Echo here.
We’re really excited to be entering this next phase of growth and development, and want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the funders and partners who have invested in Echo’s growth to date, and most importantly to our members who have invested their time, energy and skills into Echo and have made it the community that it is today – we couldn’t have done it without you.