Hay Habitat

Our Aim. Why we do it?

Hay Habitat is Community Benefit Society based in Cheetham Hill, Manchester.  Our vision is to create small community of sustainable houses centered on a community house, which will provide services to the wider community.

We want to build it using straw bales with a strong element of self and voluntary building with opportunities to local people to get involved, get training and building experience.

We believe that affordable housing can be a sustainable social enterprise which enables and supports much wider community regeneration.

Have a look at our latest newsletter: Untitled-9 (1)

Our Vision is:
1. To create a community hub from which we can operate our social enterprise.
2. Create a small number of sustainable and affordable self-build dwellings with community-led, cohousing principles
3. To construct these buildings sustainably utilising straw and renewable materials,
4. To build with self & volunteer labour and providing opportunities for onsite training and community involvement.
5. To operate our social enterprise, providing support and services to our local community.

Community Hub
We want to carry on Open Culture Project’s work in the new established community hub. Community centre facilities will include library, kitchen and shared eating/meeting area, workshop, meeting room/ learning areas; guest rooms; safer outside areas with healthy growing area and recreation space. The community centre will provide a learning opportunities for community members and for visitors seeking to learn from the project.
By encouraging Community members to help build their own centre this will not only meet their social needs but will teach skills and knowledge and develop a capable and motivated team committed to the ecological aims of the project, working and spending free time together in a spirit of community integration.
After it is built we want to run workshops which will provide advice to other community groups, training on ecological development and fun day for schools which will spread
the idea of sustainable living, renewable energy and eco co-housing. Our “bed & breakfast” services will not only be an opportunity to generate revenue but let people experience straw bale house with learning options for the other pioneers willing to self-built their own house/shed/cafe/office project.
Hay Habitat is a social enterprise

The Community hub will then be a centre of learning low impact living; building on a lot of our existing experience with the Open Culture Project and encouraging principles of self-help, learning, and mutual support.
The homes created will be environmentally friendly, highly sustainable, mixed tenure and will be open to local people.

We submitted proposal to Manchester City Council, in order to identify a suitable site for the potential Community Asset Transfer to the Hay Habitat Group, for the purposes of creating 10-15 dwellings and community facility, and an ongoing social enterprise seeking to engage and support cohesion and social benefits within the community,
and to promote and inform on the benefits of “Low Impact” living.

Presently, via the Open Culture Project, we run a community library which is grant funded and we want to move it to new, purpose designed premises.

Home creation
The homes created will be cheaper than equivalent homesand will provide high quality, thermally efficient affordablehomes, with opportunity for local people to access.
By building community centre together we will build strong and resilient community committed to ecological aims of the project. People running it will be equipped with talents, skills and knowledge which they can pass to the wider community.
We will know how construct sustainable, eco-friendly home at less than market value, and we will train build using recycled and natural materials. We will run workshops
for groups and schools with different learning needs and create platform to exchange practical information.

Community Cohesion
By providing opportunity for community to take part in the construction of the project we hope that this will be an empowering and cohesive exercise having opportunities for lower commitment activities for a wide range of people, such as planning landscaping, painting,etc.
As a Community Benefit Society, we then want to engage the community in the running and governance of the project in the long term;

Social Care
By providing a safe, warm, environment for everyone in our community, as well as opportunity for friendship, activities and engagement will have a massive positive impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of the vulnerable people in our community.
These positive outcomes also have a direct effect on formal social and health interventions, reducing the strain on resources and public expense.

Jacek Halas
studied Philosophy in Warsaw to MA level and is a qualified ethics teacher. Works as an operational director at Archies, a successful Manchester fast-food business. Jacek has a wealth of experience both conventional and alternative building methods, having participated in community orientated building projects since the age of 16. His  manual skills include wood, metal and clay work.. He has also completed a practical course in straw-bale building and clay plastering at the School of Natural Building in Todmorden.
Ela Wiecek – Mother and Toddler group leader, events’ organiser & Polish library manager.
Joanna Cwirko- Godycka is a social anthropologist, having studied for a BA in Warsaw, and completing her postgraduate diploma at the University of Manchester. Over the course of her studies she conducted research in Moldova among the Roma
community, and was also granted a scholarship of two years by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations for Tamil language and cultural studies. Over the course of her degree she took several wooden architecture classes which sparked an enduring interest in alternative building methods and ecology.
Karolina Gad– volunteer. HR professional and graduate, Communications Manager at Open Culture Project. Advocate for community empowerment and a greenfingered dog owner.
Konrad Koltun – “my interests professionally lie on the crossroad of architecture, urbanism, politics, philosophy and all those other wonders that human beings came up with. My current goal in life is to make beauty and well-designed spaces accessible to all through influencing different modes of spatial development. I used to play basketball
very competitively, now I get competitive about ping pong, chess and calisthenics”.
Marcin Karpuk  I’m a welder. I’m also studying engineering, trying to improve my knowledge about metallurgy and mechanics. My interests are history and science. Over years I had possibillity to learn many useful skills on various building sites and other jobs. I used to play ice hockey and martial arts, now I occasionally jog and hike.
Mateusz Beznic– visual artist, painter, art curator, publisher, experimentator. He studied painting and graphic design at the faculty of art at the University of Technology and Humanities in Radom. Currently a member and a resident of Rogue Artists’ Studios & Project Space CIC in Manchester.
Anna Jarawka studied psychology in Poland, and after moving to England also: Communities, Engagement and Enterprise(PGCert) in Brighton University. In 2012 successfully completed community organisers programme and received
grant from Cabinet Office to help carry on working within the community. Received funding from Polish government and opened Community Centre Library in Cheetham Hill. Bid writing and networking. Working towards community cohesion.

How did we start it?

In 2015 while listening to community members I connected people who shared interests around  sustainable living and affordable community led housing. The initial group was formed and carried on developing. In November 2015 Open Culture Project secured the funding from DCLG to implement community rights included in Localism Act, and our main focus was Right to Build.

Cabinet Office and DCLG Grant – Community Organisers’ Mobilisation Fund

 The Community Organisers LTD has been awarded £500 000 to support Community Organisers who are working with residents in projects that are using Community Rights (Localism Act, 2011).

 Our Project had been initially awarded £15,300 (amongst 27 others across England) to develop the proposed idea and to share the knowledge about Community Rights within local communities. This grant will allow us to go out in the community and listen to people’s ideas, and support community groups with implementing their rights. It will provide feedback and influence policy makers. The project is about working collaboratively and building something together that hopefully will stay in our community for generations.

We want you to have a say!



Anna Jarawka:  anna.jarawka@corganisers.org.uk 

Karolina Gad: karolina.gad@gmail.com

Joanna Cwirko- Godycka:    slombik@yahoo.com

Check us out on Who is who

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