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Inside TWCP – A Flourishing Community – Lai Ogunsola

In 2018, my brother introduced me to Matt Scott, Director of Thames Ward Community Project, TWCP at an informal event in Barking. 
 
To provide some context. I had moved back to London from Birmingham earlier that year. I previously worked in the Public Health Directorate at Birmingham City Council as a Commissioning Support Officer, prior to my role at the Greater London Authority.
 
While working in Birmingham, I developed an active interest in community development and regeneration and was keen to learn more about possible developments in Barking. I had seen first-hand the positive impact that community development could have in communities from my involvement in the voluntary sector via Sustrans and other community groups in Digbeth, and Edgbaston. I had discovered Impact Hub Birmingham, which was a social co–working space that empowered residents to make a difference in the city. I was keen to see a similar approach adopted in Barking.
 
After speaking to Matt and Jamie Kesten, I learned more about the ambitions and ethos of TWCP. The project really resonated with me. I was glad to see a desire to engage constructively with the council and the developers, Barking Riverside London to improve outcomes for residents.
 
I decided to get more involved as I felt the project was a perfect match for my professional skills and interests. More importantly, I felt that my 20 years of lived experience as a resident in Thames view would allow me to provide insight, historical context, a genuine resident voice and practical suggestions for future work.  
 
My vision for Thames view and Barking Riverside is that of a flourishing community, with improved health outcomes and education/employment for residents.  
 
Historically, relatively high rates of unemployment, poor mental health, obesity, anti-social behavioural and a range of other health and social maladies have been an issue in our community. 
 
I have been exceptionally impressed with our joint work with Barking Council, and the local Clinical Commissioning Group, as well as our collective engagement with a wide range of partners, including the British Red Cross, University College London, The Bromley By Bow Centre, East London Citizen’s UK amongst others to address health inequity in the local area. 
 
Lai Ogunsola

Member of the TWCP Health & Wellbeing Citizen Action Group