Housing & Growth

Inside TWCP: Building Community Resilience – Zainab Jalloh

We’re living through difficult times; coming out of a global pandemic, struggling through a cost of living crisis and facing the real impact of global warming. We unfortunately are constantly coming to terms with the fact that we aren’t prepared and the most vulnerable of us experience the worst.

I’ve been living in Barking Riverside for 3 years now and I’ve noticed my growing fear of house fires. We all probably have some sort of bedtime routine or ritual, well a part of mine is reducing fire risks in my house. I start with all the plugs of various appliances, turning them off and removing them from the sockets. I blow out candles, and douse recently burned matches into the kitchen sink trying to remove any possibility of them re-alighting but that may not be enough.

Before working at TWCP, I never engaged with my community let alone sought out being in important conversations around housing, fire safety or resilience. I knew of the fire in 2019, Samuel Garside House, and how it had completely destroyed some homes and also damaged others. Displacing more than 30 families. I’ve watched as the wooden balconies and flammable cladding have since been removed but as I look out the window from my own wooden floored balcony I can’t help but worry about why it takes such tragedy for action to happen. Who is planning ahead, challenging developers, changing policies, equipping residents?

Thankfully, through being a part of the team at TWCP I’ve gained insight into the incredible work community groups are doing. TWCP has been working alongside the British Red Cross around increasing resilience in the neighbourhood and working on preventative strategies to help prepare residents during these difficult times. The Barking Reach Residents Association has been key in brining local people together to voice their concerns and make change happen. I want to be more engaged as a resident and I encourage you all to do the same! Most importantly we need our councillors to be more engaged in this work to spread awareness and impact!

 

Zainab Jalloh

Communications and Outreach Officer at TWCP and Barking Riverside Resident

Resident Planning Forum: If you don’t act, you will be acted upon

If you don’t act, you will be acted upon.

If you don’t understand planning and the development that is going on in the area, you can’t do anything about it. You can’t actively shape the positive outcomes of growth. You can’t tackle the less positive concerns that arise. When the cranes go up it is too late. 

Over the last five years our project has done large public meetings attended by hundreds of residents and power holders, numerous workshops on planning and more recently with Planning Aid London, we have monthly resident planning forums.   

We believe residents are their own best resource – together the community can come together and figure it out. By regularly meeting, learning together, prioritising and taking collective action. It needs to happen because the consequences of not getting involved are stark: 

  

The cost of poor consultation:

 

2%

of the public trust developers [1]

7%

of the public trust local authorities in relation to planning for large-scale developments [2]

72%

of built environment professionals agree community consultation could be improved [3]

Barking and Dagenham has the lowest rates of resident engagement in the planning process in London of all 32 London Boroughs. That is unacceptable and we are doing our bit to turn things around with strong support from Planning Aid London and also Just Space, the Bartlett School of Planning and Community Led Housing London. Crucially we also have the support of Be First and other parts of the council and BRL. We know solutions need everyone moving in the same direction. 

The resident planning forum has simple aims: learning together via talks and presentations, prioritising issues (environment, affordable housing, safety) and taking action via work groups such as the Ripple Nature Reserve steering group and British Red Cross resilience forum, to name a few.  

Together we can flip planning and development from being a distant external presence in our lives to an enriching community-led activity. Join us!   

The resident planning forum meetings online on the first Tuesday of each month – it is open to everyone. To join please email nia@twcp.org.uk 

Residents Finalise Community Fire Safety Action Plan

Residents have been working with each other and local organisations such as the British Red Cross and TWCP to educate themselves on fire safety, compile information packs and undertake risk assessments among other actions. 

After months of outreach events, community days and two workshops – including advice and information from Fire Safety Consultants, UCL Bartletts School of Planning, Just Space, and a showcasing of local talent, the resident committee has begun finalising key actions. 

Residents of the Thames Ward and Barking Riverside area met last week to discuss the finalisation of their community fire safety action plan and its submission to the major stakeholders in the area: the Council, Barking Riverside Limited, the London Fire Brigade, the Greater London Assembly and the Mayor. Following the Barking Fire of 2019, residents have expressed the need to work with local organisations to address ongoing concerns to avert a future disaster.

Local poet Romeo Murisa, the Rainbow Collective and local residents will be producing a film to convey the key areas of concern that residents would like to work with major stakeholders to address such as remediation of flammable materials, extra fire safety equipment and improved transparency and information sharing between residents, builders and developers. 

Taking Action on Community Fire Safety

The British Red Cross began working with Thames Ward Community Project (TWCP), residents and the London Fire Brigade to create a series of workshops to develop a fire safety action plan with residents in response to the tragic fire in 2019.

On 9th June 2019, the Barking Riverside community in Thames Ward experienced a rapidly spreading fire, that affected more than 30 families, leaving those families displaced. Many community groups including the BRC and TWCP supported residents immediately after the fire.

The BRC and TWCP have recently organised a community day event, which took place on 1st October in Barking Riverside’s Rivergate Centre, and two fire action plan workshops on the 4th October and 29th November.

Each event has brought together local service providers and residents, one being the London Fire Brigade. At the community day event, families were excited to interact with the fire trucks and meet the firefighters who shared helpful advice in relation to fire preparedness. The event was also supported by the Coop at Minter Road who donated refreshments.

Both fire workshops were also well attended by local residents, with the most recent especially engaging families with local entertainment. The 29th November was a guided workshop where residents were invited to share ideas to help create the fire safety action plan for the community. Findings from the previous workshop on October 4th, were also reviewed. The evening continued food catered by the Good Food Collective and a showcase of local providers and performers including: art work by Emmanuel Oreyeni @oreyeni_arts, an experimental art workshop by University College London, and live spoken word by local poet Romeo Murisa @spokenwithvision.

The BRC and TWCP will continue to engage and connect with the community to improve resilience-building in the community and fire safety with the hopes of finalising a Community Fire Safety Action Plan that can provide direction on reducing fire risk as well as leveraging support from housing developers, LFB and other stakeholders in the community for fire protection and prevention efforts.

Online Resident Planning Forum – Wednesday 17th February 2021, 5pm – 6pm via Zoom

Planning Aid for London (PAL) is supporting the Thames Ward Community Project (TWCP) with the consolidation of a Resident Planning Forum, to offer residents, local businesses, and other interested (community) parties in Thames Ward a platform to scrutinise planning processes in Barking.

As TWCP has established interest among residents in joining the forum, PAL will offer further support to develop a work programme, provide administrative support, and help coordinate the forum. PAL will also give expert advice on planning to help the forum prepare responses to planning proposals and other planning processes.

Click the link below to register and get involved: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/resident-planning-forum-meeting-with-planning-aid-london-tickets-140113335759

TWCP partners with Community Led Housing London to research community-led housing sites on Thames Ward

TWCP has successfully applied for funding, in the form of an adviser from Community Led Housing London (Rowan Mackay) to work with residents to look at one of the most pressing issues of our time: genuinely affordable housing. This time we have a clear solution in mind – using sites locally for building property that can be community owned and community-led.

We know also that the council and Greater London Authority (GLA) are keen to promote similar innovation to empower residents, so this feels like pushing at an open door.

According to Trust for London the borough has worse than average rates of evictions, homeless acceptances and temporary accommodation rates in comparison with other London boroughs and despite a programme of 50,000 new housing units, only average housing delivery at present.

We will be working with our CLH adviser to continue our listening campaigns, researching the local need and aim to bring our findings together in a brief report of resident testimony on housing needs. We will then form a resident steering group to make a proposal to develop a specific site. Hopefully our proposal is successful, leading to further funding to enable us to develop a site in partnership with local partners such as the council (Be First) and GLA.

5th Thames Ward Resident Growth Summit POSTPONED

Unfortunately due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic TWCP has made the difficult decision to postpone the upcoming 5th Thames Ward Resident Growth Summit due to take place in July 2020. We are following government guidance regarding the avoidance of large gatherings in order to help prevent the spread of the virus.

At this time we are hoping to reschedule the event for sometime in September 2020 either in-person (if circumstances allow) or if not as an interactive online event.

Stay tuned for further details…

Thames Ward Community Project

4th Growth Summit Monday 3rd February 2020 5.30-8 PM @ 47 Thames Road (The Warehouse)

Everyone is invited to our 4th Thames Ward Resident Growth Summit on Monday 3rd February 2020 starting with entertainment at 5.30pm.

It is taking place at The Warehouse, 47 Thames Road, Barking, IG11 0HQ.

  • Hear about resident work: ESOL for Parents & DJ Workshops plus those planned for 2020 e.g. gardening, fitness clubs, yoga.
  • Deputy Leader Saima Ashraf on LBBD vision for Thames Ward
  • Discuss the Resident Charter and what you want to see from the growth
  • Live DJing from Riverside School students
  • Exhibition of our ongoing ‘Local Heroes’ Portrait Series
  • The Young Citizen Action Group (or YCAG) from Riverside School summarise their social action achievements for the community so far

Food and drinks will be provided by a local caterer too!

Please feel free to share with any Thames Ward residents you think would be interested and also to your professional networks.

Hope to see you there!

Resident Charter Organising Meeting – 18th July 2019, 7-9pm @ Sue Bramley Centre, Bastable Avenue, IG11 0LH

Purpose: Plan resident-led engagement, learn together and have fun

This is a continuation of a series of events and workshops supported by local resident groups with facilitation by Architecture sans Frontière

At this meeting we will crack on with getting 2,000 conversations with residents to inform our resident charter to be completed at the end of the year

All welcome, venue fully accessible, with refreshments provided

Event organised by Matt Scott (Thames Ward Community Project)

Contact: matt@twcp.org.uk and 07827 258411

3rd Growth Summit – Tuesday 9th July 2019, 5.30-8 PM @ Riverside Campus, Fielders Crescent, Barking, IG11 0FU

Everyone is invited to our 3rd Thames Ward Resident Growth Summit on Tuesday 9th July 2019 starting with entertainment at 5.30pm.

It is taking place at Riverside Campus, Fielders Crescent, Barking, IG11 0FU.

  • Come and check out Emmanuel’s Local Heroes Portrait Series
  • Music performances from Riverside School
  • Live DJ set from Josiah
  • Poetry from Riverside School students
  • Update from YCAG on their work tackling barriers to school travel.
  • Resident Testimony following #BarkingFire
  • Update on Resident Charter process
  • Hear from Citizen Action Group members on resident-led projects!

Food and drinks will be provided by a local caterer too!

Please feel free to share with any Thames Ward residents you think would be interested and also to your professional networks.

Hope to see you there!

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