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Inside TWCP: From Zero Engagement to Community Work

I’ll be honest, I lived my first year as a resident of Barking Riverside with little to no engagement at all with the community. The “little” compromised solely of taking the EL1 bus route to Barking station, heading to work, and commuting back home again. On weekends, we would head to the town centre, to the local supermarket, which was merely out of necessity, and I was okay with living like this. I had become accustomed to this sort of urban nomad life, in which I made little effort to grow roots where I lived.

A few reasons drove this behaviour, one just being the tunnel vision of the working life, but another has to do with the regeneration that took place in what I would call my hometown. I grew up to watch the area change from infamous to a bohemian hotspot. Young working professionals and students arrived finally seeing the potential for communal projects and shared spaces, to enhance community, without the community. The divide is stark. It made me lose a bit of my sense of belonging, and knowing you belong, and you have a voice to shape where you live is everything.

Fast forward to moving to Barking, and it took giving birth to my first born and the Pandemic to make me slow down and finally embrace what was my new locality. I received a newspaper from a well known charity, which sparked my interest. Exploring all the Warehouse on River Road had to offer gave me a new found excitement for my local area and I actually started to talk to my neighbours. My year was spent taking part in a collaborative business project, where I learned how to create handcrafted candles and textile products; taking care of chickens, a fun and beneficial past time in terms of collecting eggs; and finally joining a Women’s cycling group, which ultimately changed the trajectory of my life! It led me to this job. 

It was the year 2020, and those experiences that ignited in me a desire to not only be a part of the Thames Ward community, but to empower the voices of all of us to be part of the change happening right now. You can become an active part of holding those with duty accountable, creating your own solutions to local issues, collaborating with others so the wheel isn’t reinvented, and just learning from the diverse group of people that live here.

I want to challenge you if you are a local resident to be heard! Yes we’re all a little rusty after spending time in lockdowns but thats the crux of what we’re doing here at Thames Ward Community Project. We’re conveners. We’ll help you cultivate your skills, get you a seat at the table and support the community so that conversations turn into action.

Zainab Jalloh

Communications and Outreach Officer