Secondary Rules: Ethics and Principles

Subrosa’s Secondary Rules are a summary of our aims and principles and they include most major decision we have made so far about what kind of social centre we want and the way we want to achieve it.SubrosManchester Social Centre

Subrosa Secondary Rules


Manchester Social Centre aims to create and maintain a permanent space in Manchester according to the following principles:

Autonomy & Self-Management

We reject rules imposed on us by hierarchy and outside authorities, but instead collectively manage our own affairs.

Openness and Inclusion

We welcome people regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, class, and ability. The space is intended to be an arena for free thought and debate, but belief systems which conflict with these principles, and attempts by individuals and groups to force beliefs onto others will not be tolerated.

As a practical manifestation of these ideals, we aim to make the space as physically accessible as possible, and to run it according to the safe spaces policy (see below). We also aim to make the group using and running the space as diverse as possible.

Horizontal/Non-Hierachical Organising & Collective Decision-Making

We believe that all decisions and actions should be made on a horizontal basis with all members having an equal say, using a consensus decision-making model. Consensus decision-making is about trying to find common ground and solutions that are acceptable to all, with the goal of taking everyone’s opinions, ideas and concerns into account.

The collective may set up working groups, which will have autonomy but are accountable to the wider coop and its aims and principles.

Cooperation and Mutual Aid

We want to put the principles of cooperation and mutual aid into practice, where people work together collectively to help each other to solve common problems. We reject competition and conflict and the principles of capitalism, and aim to replace them with the sharing and redistribution of knowledge, skills, wealth  and resources.

Environmental Sustainability

We want to minimise our ecological footprint, reducing our consumption of resources and limiting our contribution to all kinds of pollution. We aim to minimise the environmental impact of the project as much as is practical, and also to create a space that helps those involved with it to work collectively to reduce their personal environmental impact. However, we reject the idea of environmental problems being caused by individuals, which obscures the damage created by capitalism.

Not For Profit

The Manchester Social Centre project has been set up to further the aims and principles listed in this document, not to generate profits for individuals or owners. Any money made in excess of the amount required to make the project sustainable in the long run will be to support other groups and projects of this nature. In the event of the project ending, all capital and assets will be disposed of in this way.


Practical aims of the project

  • At a minimum, the space should provide the following facilities: Cheap/free vegan food and drink; meeting space; social space/venue for music, films, performance art and other community events; info shop; library; computer terminals for internet access.
  • If possible the following should also be included: allotment, radical bookshop, bike workshop, recording studio, free shop, storage, offices, media studio, tool/tat library; bar. This is not an exhaustive list.
  • To enable and empower communities in Manchester to work towards social change which will genuinely benefit those who most need it, as well as set an example of how co-operative working and mutual respect can triumph over hierarchy and capitalism in an existing culture of cynicism, greed and the use of ‘divide and rule’ tactics by government and corporations.
  • Enable members of groups which are oppressed and/or marginalised in modern society, to participate freely and on equal terms in both the space itself and the activities which are organised within it.
  • Space for discussion and real creation of radically egalitarian answers to the problems of our current social, political and economic situations.
  • To support radical non-hierarchical groups, which share our principles, including other co-ops.
  • We strive to create a vegan space and we ask that people using the space respect this. Everything we purchase and provide will be vegan.



  • While Manchester Social Centre is housed, all members of the collective are committed to maintaining a functioning social centre, to familiarise themselves with the workings of Radical Routes and to send apologies if they are unable to attend a meeting.
  • Before joining Manchester Social Centre, prospective members should read this document in full and agree to the principles and the ways of working it describes.
  • To become a member of Manchester Social Centre, an individual must purchase a £1 share and have their name and address entered into the list of members in the secretary’s book.
  • We have a policy that it is not the role of the social centre to govern member’s savings and income, but to aim to foster sharing and rejection of capitalist and individualistic values.



  • In order for meetings to operate in the way described above (see ‘Horizontal/Non-Hierarchical Organising & Collective Decision-Making’ section), a facilitator and minute taker will be appointed for each meeting.
  • We recognise the limitations of consensus models of decision making but aim to make it as accessible and effective as possible. We believe that these barriers can be minimised by good facilitation and by individuals being committed to participating in the process of consensus decision making.


Social Change Activity

  • Manchester Social Centre works to create social change, both by providing a community space which allows for the outreach of radical ideas, and by facilitating the work of activists and activist groups.
  • As Manchester Social Centre is a Radical Routes co-op, individual members of the coop should participate in political and social change activity in accordance with the Radical Routes membership criteria.
  • We regard social change activity as questioning and rejecting existing power structures, oppression and discrimination.
  • We recognise that these activities will vary and reject the notion of ‘activism’ as sacrifice and asceticism. As well as working in this group, members should also aim to be involved in other social change projects.
  • As a group we want duties to be shared equitably in a way that’s sustainable, and undertake not to let individual members take on too many responsibilities so that they burn out.


Safe Spaces Policy

We want Manchester Social Centre to be a permanent autonomous space where everyone can feel safe and think a Safe Spaces Agreement supports the realisation of this. The basic tenet is respect – respect each other (our backgrounds, identities, ideas and bodies) – and respect the space we’ve created together. Here it goes…

  • Everyone has an equal right to be heard and an equal responsibility to listen (people who are used to talking may feel the benefit of listening more, and vice versa).
  • Respect and look after the building as a physical space and a resource for all.
  • However strongly you feel about a particular topic, resist abusive discussions.
  • Any behaviour – physical or verbal – that demeans, marginalises or dominates others, or perpetuates hierarchies, is not welcome.
  • Identify your own privileges – the things that sometimes give you an easier ride than others – and actively challenge them.
  • Be aware of the range of different identities (gender, race, class) that people may identify with, and avoid making generalisations, or assumptions about people.
  • Always refer to people using their preferred pronouns. If you’re unsure, ask.
  • Be aware that anyone in the space could be a survivor of a particular form of oppression, for example, violence or racism.
  • If you are feeling uncomfortable, please don’t hesitate to raise this, or ask someone else to raise it on your behalf
  • It is everyone’s responsibility to challenge prejudice & oppression, and if we ignore it we are complicit in it. As much as possible, try and challenge people in a way that is constructive, rather than demeaning.
  • People who are not willing to abide by this safe spaces policy are excluding themselves from the space, and will be asked to leave.

This list is not exhaustive and it is up to all of us to help create a space where everyone feels safe and included.Groups who wish to create a temporary safe space, meeting space or workshop space for a particular group are welcome to do so (disabled, women, lgbtqi, black and any others…)


Conflict Resolution

We use the conflict resolution policy that we adopted from Next to Nowhere social centre based in Liverpool for our conflict resolution, you can read more about it, it is found under the ‘About’ menu.


Radical Routes

  • Manchester Social Centre recognises the value of Radical Routes as a mutual aid network beyond its role as a lender, and we aim to be members whether or not we have a loan.
  • The group undertakes to introduce new members to Radical Routes, and explain its work to them, and the work commitments we have to undertake as a member.
  • To ensure that members can attend Radical Routes gatherings as representatives, Manchester Social Centre undertakes to cover the travel expenses, up to 150% of the cost of a coach ticket for two members. Preference will be given to those who have not attended a gathering before, as long as those with working group commitments are able to go. Attendees should be rotated as much as possible. Exceptions to the 150% limit will be waived for those who are unable to travel by coach.
  • We wish to be an active member of Radical Routes and commit to having at least one member as a core member of a Radical Routes working group at all times.