Advertisement

10 Ideas for Change: East London

East London has been the site of the UK’s biggest regeneration projects in recent years but many localities still face chronic disadvantage. The area is home to hundreds of organisations and projects aimed at improving places for people, alleviating poverty and challenging unjust and unsustainable systems and practices. Here are ten of the best:

1. TACKLING FOOD POVERTY: EAST LONDON FOOD ACCESS
Food poverty is growing in many areas of east London and good quality fruit and vegetables are no longer locally available at an affordable price. ELFA co-ordinates and supports eight fresh produce stalls located on estates and primary schools across Hackney. Volunteers help older people carry their bags home and the organisation is conducting research into the best ways to support those facing food poverty and developing collaborative buying groups. It is tackling head-on the stranglehold of supermarkets on food distribution. http://www.elfaweb.org.uk/

2. LOCAL PARTNERS COLLABORATING TO CREATE A NEW URBAN SPACE: GILLETT SQUARE
Hackney Co-operative Developments and local partners have, over the last ten years, created a new town square in the centre of Dalston. It began with ten market pod kiosks for local entrepreneurs on the site of a car park, and is now a thriving and creative urban space. Derelict factory premises along one side of the square were turned into the Dalston Culture House, home to the Vortex Jazz Club and studio space for artists, and the square is the site for events and festivals throughout the year from dancing to poetry ping pong. A great example of local voluntary bodies and arts and social organisations joining forces with the local council to revitalise a town centre. http://www.gillettsquare.org.uk/

3. PEER-TO-PEER FINANCIAL MENTORING: TOYNBEE HALL Despite its close proximity to the UK’s financial centres of the City of London and Canary Wharf, residents in Tower Hamlets are among the most financially excluded in the UK. Tonybee Hall has provided debt and financial advice to local people for decades but felt that a greater level of support was needed. Its Money Mentors scheme provides a two-day course for local people to gain the skills to give one-to-one money management support. A coach then supports the mentor to share their knowledge with their local community, both formally and informally. In total 350 mentors will be trained over the next three years and the training course is delivered in English as well as local community languages. As financial exclusion grows, this scheme offers an organic means of spreading knowledge. http://www.toynbeehall.org.uk/

4. BUILDING LOCAL POWER: TELCO The east London Communities Organisation (Telco) is the founding chapter of London Citizens, one of the largest community organising alliances in the UK. It brings local civil society organisations together for the common good, building the capacity of members so that they can challenge power structures and systems. In the last 15 years its campaigns and actions have included the Living Wage and community-led housing such as the East London community land trust. Its Citizens Jobs Network is focused on jobs and opportunities for young people. http://www.citizensuk.org/chapters/telco/

5. BOOSTING LOCAL SKILLS AND TRADES: CANNING TOWN CARAVANSERAI
A Meanwhile project on an empty piece of land cleared as part of the Canning Town’s regeneration, the Caravanserai aims to break down the barriers between commerce and recreation. It has created a new type of community space where local people can hang out, meet people, learn new skills, and trade products. Kiosks are available for people to sell their wares and workshops help local people develop skills and get their businesses off the ground. http://caravanserai.org.uk/

6. DEVOLVING BUDGET DECISIONS TO LOCAL PEOPLE: TOWER HAMLETS COUNCIL Tower Hamlets Council has been one of the main advocates of participatory budgeting in the UK. Since 2009 its You Decide! project has seen decisions over how millions of pounds of council funding is spent passed into the hands of local people. The area has recently been chosen to pilot the government’s neighbourhood level community budget plan, which will give residents a greater say over local services. http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/

7. ENCOURAGING LOCAL SOCIAL INVESTMENT: THE EAST LONDON BOND The East London Bond was created by Allia in 2010 in response to declining donor funds following the onset of recession. It encouraged would-be donors and supporters to invest in a secure bond which pays their money back in five years time. In east London the money raised has been used to support local charities Community Links and the Bromley by Bow Centre with grant funding, as well as providing loans to local housing providers. http://allia.org.uk/

8. ENSURING THE ‘HARDEST TO REACH’ ACCESS SERVICES: HELP ON YOUR DOORSTEP
Not strictly an east London project, Help on your Doorstep grew out of EC1 New Deal for Communities funding and its work borders and overlaps with areas of deprivation in inner east London. It meets the needs of the so-called ‘hardest to reach’ by going to their homes and taking services to them. The organisation’s Connect team knock on doors in social housing estates and their surrounds to help the most isolated to link up to support and advice.  http://www.helponyourdoorstep.com

9. CREATING MIXED COMMUNITIES OF HOUSING: GRAND UNION PLACE
Grand Union Place is a tenure-blind residential development based on the side of the canal in Stepney. East Thames Housing regenerated a contaminated former gas works to create the scheme. The housing group overcame planning challenges to ensure it could offer a range of homes – from one bedroom flats to six bedroom homes – and tenures, from social housing to owner-occupier. A longitudinal study into the success of the scheme found it has achieved a strong level of social cohesion and integration. http://www.east-thames.co.uk/

10. CELEBRATING COMMUNITY-LED ACTION: THE COMMUNITY LOVER’S GUIDE TO HACKNEY
The aim of the Community Lover’s Guide to the Universe series is to surface and share stories of community-led action to inspire people to gain awareness of what’s going on in their local neighbourhoods and get involved. The Community Lover’s Guide to Hackney, written by Laura Billings, features projects such as hyperlocal social network Yeah! Hackney, which encourages local meet-ups, Growing Communities, London’s first Community Supported Agriculture scheme, and People’s Kitchen which has, since 2010, fed over 5000 people using over 10 tonnes of food that would otherwise have gone to waste. http://communityloversguide.org/#Hackney

This is just a snapshot of ideas creating change in east London. To add to the list please leave a comment in the box below.

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top