Mindful of the partial and divisive effects of regeneration elsewhere in London, local MP Dame Margaret Hodge together with Andy Roberts, Head of Riverside School and supported by experienced community development professional Tricia Zipfel began to explore the possibility of securing funding for a community project to ensure a more balanced, resident-led approach to the current wave of development about to sweep into the area.
Riverside School secured funding for a 6-month project, funded by ‘Power to Change’ to do outreach and develop support for a longer-term three-year programme of work. Thames Ward was identified as a ‘cold spot’ that had traditionally lacked the forms of community infrastructure other areas can access. The work highlighted five themes
- A divide between the older estates and new developments
- Services under pressure as the population expanded
- A lack of communication and little information about existing activities
- A lack of activities for young people
- Tensions between different groups as they struggle to promote their activities
At the end of the ‘Power to Change’ project over 375 residents indicated a willingness to be involved with the project. A recommendation was made to seek long-term funding. This process took over a year and was finally successful in July 2017.
The Big Lottery Fund (now National Lottery Community Fund) awards £311,558 to support the creation of the ‘Thames Ward Community Project’ to help build community infrastructure and ensure that both the old and new communities of the area come together to share the benefit of the new opportunities associated with being home to the largest housing development in London.
The Thames Ward Community Project (TWCP) began in earnest with the successful recruitment of two worker posts, both based at the school, Matt (Director of Community Engagement), line managed by the Head Teacher and Jamie (Community Organiser). A key aspect of the organiser post was to develop a programme of work with Riverside School students, building on earlier work conducted and it is upon this aspect of the work of TWCP that this case study intends to focus. The project was tasked with five core outcomes:
- Helping the community become stronger and more cohesive;
- Helping the community become healthier;
- Helping the community become more confident and skilled;
- Making the environment cleaner and more attractive;
- Developing a resident-led Community Development Trust.
First meeting of the TWCP resident steering group who outline their vision for the local area and commit to working towards the creation of a Community Development Trust, as a successor to the project, led by local people. The steering group members take on key leadership roles on thematic Citizen Action Groups for Arts & Culture, Environment & Blue-Green spaces, Health & Wellbeing, Housing & Growth and Skills & Enterprise as well as facilitate large public events including biannual Resident Growth Summits
Following successful applications for funding throughout the year to London City Airport, Near Neighbours, BRL and Laureus Foundation, TWCP secures £90,000 for two part time worker posts (Community Organiser and Communications Manager) from Trust for London, and shortly afterwards is able to employ two local residents, Amina and Michael, to double our staff team.
TWCP gets confirmation of its successful application for charitable status as a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) in preparation for the next phase of our development as a resident-led Community Development Trust. The object of the CIO is the promotion of urban regeneration across Thames Ward which is to be done through the relief of poverty, advancement of education and training, provision of business advice and support into employment, provision of recreational facilities and protection of conservation of the environment, among other activities
TWCP is successful in applying for 3-year continuation funding from the Lottery Reaching Communities fund! This investment will support us to continue, consolidate and secure our project in the long term.
We envisage establishing a community hub that will provide a place for residents in Thames Ward to socialise, engage with local projects and access services. We also hope to have a lead role in place shaping and developing social businesses, an opportunity that will develop local skills and connections.