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Inside TWCP: Power to residents’ voices – Venilia Amorim

Having been an already quite active resident in the community – I joined the Barking Reach Residents Association committee as treasurer in 2016 – Tricia Zipfel, a founder and guardian of the Thames Ward Community Project, asked me and the association’s chair (Pete Mason) if we would like to be part of the interviewing process for the TWCP director’s position in the summer of 2017.

That’s when I met Matt Scott (TWCP director), back in September 2017. I posed hard questions, especially to someone who was new to the area. I wanted to make sure we got the right person for the job, someone who could establish a strong relationship with the local people, who really listened and actioned some of the brilliant ideas local residents had.

Since then I was quickly absorbed into TWCP’s steering board and never looked back.

I knew then – and I know now – that TWCP would be one of the most important projects for Barking Riverside and indeed Thames Ward as a whole. Important in developing residents’ skills, in encouraging entrepreneurship and engagement not only within the community but also with the wider stakeholders such as the council and the Barking Riverside estate developer, Barking Riverside Limited.

Living on the estate – I moved to Barking Riverside eight years ago – and in the borough (for a combined 17 years) has given me an insight of what is most important for residents: a safe and clean environment where people (young and old) can thrive culturally, financially educationally and socially.

Residents want safe and warm homes to live in, without the burden of inoperable heating systems or flammable cladding on walls. They want a consistent transport structure and shops and restaurants. Residents want a GP! One in which it doesn’t take months to get an appointment. Residents want parking spaces but want to be able to enjoy green spaces and clean air! Residents want good schools and activities for the wide diversity of residents as well as worship spaces…

Lots of wants… It’s not an easy task to be a town planner, that’s for sure! But it will be much easier with residents on board, actively making decisions on how best to shape the place they live in and will continue to live in for many years to come. I believe TWCP is a great platform for that. It has made great progress in already so many fields: arts, culture, nature, infrastructure, transport. And it will keep on going. It has and it will always have my support as a resident and as a steering group member.

My main passion is communication – I’m a journalist by trade – and I thrive in clear and open communication, ultimately by residents for the residents. This plays a hugely important part in my vision for Barking Riverside and Thames Ward: a place that is designed and built with local residents in mind, with their wants and needs as top priority.

Venilia Amorim

TWCP Steering Group Member