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Inside TWCP: A Year in Post – Zainab Jalloh

Last week, it was my 1-year anniversary as Communications & Outreach Officer here at Thames Ward Community Project, and I couldn’t quite believe it. We choose jobs for a variety of reasons, but I remember vividly late 2020 hoping to take a risk to find a job that gave me time for family, and a job that was closer to what moved me, serving community. I believe in circumstances being timely and purposeful so when I was offered this role, even though changing careers was frightening, a smaller team more exposing, and the initial short-term contract precarious, I took it because it was what I wanted.

It has since been both challenging and incredibly exciting. I sit in my role as a worker but most importantly a local resident of Barking Riverside who emphatically wants to see our area thrive and people really be at the centre of decisions that affect their lives and TWCP exists for that. The heart of Thames Ward Community Project is residents coming together to create action groups and make change: Arts & Culture, Environment, Health & Wellbeing, Housing, Skills & Enterprise, and Young People, and comms plays a huge part.

I’ve been able to heavily support our Barking Food Forest project and seen how important sharing the journey of a project is in building momentum and engaging residents. Even whilst in lockdown, we created social media pages to share our ethos, co-design session plans, and more recently people getting stuck in at events! And I’m learning that that’s what people care about seeing. Real people, real stories, real community building. So my focus this new year is doing more of that.

As a team we’re creating spaces that promote honest dialogue with major stakeholders; the Resident Planning Forum, Community Resilience Project, the Healthy Thames Project, to get our resident voices a seat at the table. And a key vehicle for me to champion real stories is through our now resident-led, community newspaper, “Riverside News.” If you haven’t read it yet take a moment! This is us. The community managing green spaces, supporting local entrepreneurs, building resilience, enjoying street parties and getting behind our young people! We’re a little closer today it seems to having the community we are happy to have our children grow up in, but I don’t just want to sell you positive press.

I want us to have some hard conversations too and to make sure those get heard. At TWCP, I like that we’re not afraid to do that. I’m excited to spend more time this year getting out of my house and meeting you. Collaborating and creating impactful content that turns heads, and gets resources.

Zainab Jalloh

Communications and Outreach Officer at TWCP