community

Inside TWCP: Meet our Governance Manager Margarida

Hello everyone, I am Margarida! I love spreadsheets, cycling, video games, cartoons and I believe that with love and community, we can make the world a more welcoming and lovely place for us all. 

I first came across TWCP through a friend who had just joined a new project there. The person who was supporting my friend was going on holiday, and she shared concerns about what that could entail. I offered to help and supported the team with some data analysis and tweaking some procedures and systems for that program. It was extremely gratifying to feel so appreciated and useful. At some point I met Matt. We had a great, long chat about our long life commitment to building community, social change models and we shared some of the stories we’ve gathered along our activism journeys. 

I’ve been involved in the volunteer sector for over 20 years and although my passions and the projects that I choose to give myself to are broad in scope and ever-changing, building community and improving the lives of marginalised groups has always been at the centre of what I do. 

Early this year I covered a maternity leave as Executive Director of a small organisation that works with families with young children in Barking and Dagenham, Early Years Cocoon C.I.C. . I got to know the needs and concerns of our families by working very closely with them. I also realised that families believe there is a huge lack of support and/or are unaware of the available services in the borough. There’s a lot of work to be done in this regard. 

When I learned about the Governance Manager vacancy, I knew I wanted it! 

What is Governance, you might ask? Governance is “the systems and processes concerned with ensuring the overall direction, effectiveness, supervision and accountability of an organisation” (according to The Governance of Voluntary Organisations, Cornforth 2003).  

I believe good governance in a resident-led charity is essential. If the regulations and procedures are well designed and clearly communicated, they empower and support staff in their work and help the organisation run smoother, which makes for a better service for everyone, therefore creating a self-feeding cycle of trust within the charity and everyone we encounter. This trust is essential for residents to participate and get actively involved; without which it’s very hard to fulfil the charity’s objectives. 

I feel privileged to be working for an organisation that is actively seeking to bring about improvements for the community through social change. I’m excited to get to know the residents and to put my experience in service of a cause I believe in. 

Margarida Lopes

Governance Manager

Director blog September 2022 – Riot Days

Maria Alyokhina wrote the book ‘Riot Days’ (Penguin: 2017) about her experience of activism and imprisonment.  Every page a testament to living one’s truth in the face of real and actual oppression. In her case, a feminist in modern day Russia as part of the punk band ‘Pussy Riot’. For those that don’t remember their protest in February 21, 2012, directed at the Orthodox Church leaders support for Putin during his election campaign, first of all where were you and second, never doubt the importance and impact of creative dissent.

Unlike much of the art we see in London, in galleries or regeneration makeovers where something communal or edgy ends up co-opted and corporatized, this is real. Something the powers that be couldn’t pretend they were down with.   

I mention it because I think so much of the way charities, the public sector and wider private agencies operate locally can feel like a mutual conspiracy to suck the life out of things. Deadly boring and deeply ineffective. On top of that, repressive – shunning different ideas and perspectives. Under the Best Value regime for commissioning and procurement government spoke of the guiding principles are being the three E’s – equity, economy, efficiency. This could now be updated as the three C’s – control, contract, con-trick.  That is sometimes how it feels, repeatedly – control, contracts, conning people. Three card monte.      

I am of course being deeply unfair if I leave it there. To quote a former council leader ‘we are all good people stuck in a bad system’ (Barry Quirk – Esprit de corps: leadership for progressive change in local government). He goes on to say: 

“Councils are public institutions and as such have a legal and constitutional status, but they are socially constructed. It’s the people in them that make them work or fail. It’s no good blaming the construct when the essence of organization is something that we have built ourselves… if local government is ineffective it’s our own feckless fatalism… that are at fault. If things are not going well, there is no one to blame but ourselves. We socially construct the system that we then claim traps us from being effective. So how can good people escape the trap? First, by being open and honest about the failings and deficiencies” 

Taking my lead from this council leader, I also want to be open and escape the trap. My sense is that all is not right, which is why I do community work. I don’t assume equal partnership is a given and I rarely experience it, either for myself but most importantly for community groups and residents. They are not treated as equals.  They do not get the justice and respect they deserve. The heating and water supplies often don’t work, the parking fines mount up, the rat problem isn’t tackled, the GP waiting times get longer, the cost of housing goes up and up. Land value rules everything around us – a license to print money. Since 2010 councils have on average at least 50% less money due to cuts. Think about what that means in terms of who does and doesn’t have power and remember ‘if you want change you need power’: land values go up – those who control land that can be developed control everything and stand to profit by it. The rest of us are trapped. So trapped it becomes routine. Which leads me to one of my favourite quotes from an Italian author Italo Calvino: 

“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.” 
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities 

Our new vision is about ‘residents driving change’.  Our mission ‘to create positive spaces and opportunities for resident empowerment and wellbeing’. Quirk warns of feckless fatalism, Calvino speaks of escape, exhorting those who would not be feckless and fatalistic to be vigilant and give such people ‘space’. Hence our mission – positive spaces. We want spaces – not just buildings and community centers that don’t cost the earth due to spurious notions of financial viability but also the head space and the oxygen in the room to speak up and not be closed down, shouted down, but space to be, to endure, to act in alignment with our own beliefs and agendas rather than incorporation into someone else’s ambitions. 

Yes I got all of this from reading a book about a Russian feminist. I do tend to read a lot of books though. It is how I decompress and feel enchantment with the world that is all too often dreary.   

Maria Alyokhina writes: 

‘You have a routine; you have a schedule for life and living. Do you also have a set schedule for thinking?  Why don’t you tell them no?  Why can’t you even think about telling them no?  Why does this thought seem pointless to you?  When did it become pointless for you?’  – p.75 / isolation 

Later on she quotes someone else: 

‘If you dream alone, the dream remains only a dream; but if you dream with others, you create reality.’ – Subcomandante Marcos 

Long may we dream and act together. 

Matthew Scott 

TWCP Director 

Wellbeing Navigators Comes to an End

As this chapter of working in Thames View and Barking Riverside closes and another begins I’ve been reflecting on our pilot, Wellbeing Navigators. The standout thing for me has been the relationships formed between all our participants and clients. There are so many different activities, groups and projects going on around here that once you open your eyes to them you start to see a different landscape: a network of residents striving to make their neighbourhood more connected, fun and greener. I have seen former wellbeing navigator volunteers and clients go on to work on the Henry programme, start cooking classes at the Participatory City Warehouse or leading campaigns to open up our local nature reserve. One thing leads to another as they say. 

During our pilot we have helped people retrain – learning skills in motivational interviewing, mental health awareness and social prescribing and to seek new opportunities for employment – coming out of the pandemic. It’s been heartening to have applicants call me to say that having been helped out of rough patches themselves they just want to give something back to their community having been locked away for 18 months of lockdown. This eagerness has allowed us to reconnect many isolated residents back with their community, get active and feeling healthier again. Just a few warm conversations can ignite a life changing transformation. One resident we were chatting to was unaware that our Barking Food Forest was literally on his doorstep, now he’s helping to run it! 

Over the course of walking groups, workshops, community events and 1-2-1s I have seen neighbours who have never met before, meet for the first time and form strong bonds of solidarity as they discuss the common challenges of bills, health, homes and overcoming loneliness in a busy city. It’s quite surprising sometimes how easily friendships can form. Despite the fact many of us spend most of our time looking at screens surrounded by four walls, once we are out and about talking to people we really are all the same: looking for a sense of connection and belonging within our community. 

Alex Anthony

Wellbeing Navigator Volunteer Coordinator

Ripple Reserve Reach Out 

Residents have been working together over the last 3 months to revive a movement long-forgotten  back to life. The Ripple Nature Reserve once stood, open to the public, with two main entrances on  Renwick Road and Marine Drive. Located behind the Barking Reach Power Station, today, it remains  closed. The site has a vast history in Thames View, Barking and Dagenham, and was once a place  where local industry deposited pulverised fuel ash. It’s even rumoured there was a farm located on site.  Residents were able to spot the smallest British Carnivore back then – Weasels and the elusive  woodpecker bird. They may very well still be there. History moved on and the land was deemed safe  for human use and became an accessible nature reserve with the site boasting gorgeous silver-trunk  birch trees, a pond and wildflower meadow blooming with colourful flowers each year in summer  bloom. Unfortunately, the site was closed a number of years ago, leaving nature to leave the Reserve untouched and wild. 

Thames Ward Community Project (TWCP), Barking and Dagenham CouncilRoding Rubbish and a  group of volunteers have been working behind the scenes to open the Ripple Nature Reserve to the general public. The aim is to make it safe once again for young children and the more mature,  responsible adults and dog-walkers alike. Residents are taking part in a number of activities such as  litter picking, planning and crafting so that we can once again bring the Ripple Nature Reserve back  to life and open for all. Consider this the Ripple Reserve Reach Out. If you would like to be  involved please contact us below. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas and for our joint contribution in opening the Reserve in full next year! More coming soon. 

Vishal Narayan, Local Resident on behalf of the Ripple Nature Reserve Resident Group

Email: Nia@TWCP.org.uk to get involved.

Instagram: @Ripplenaturereserve

Join us to celebrate GROW

Throughout August, we partnered with Creative Barking and Dagenham to provide creative workshops and activities for residents in Thames View and Barking Riverside. GROW transformed local spaces and allowed residents to connect, learn a new skill and just relax with family and friends!

Taking place Saturdays – Tuesdays across the Sue Bramley CentreRivergate Centre and our very own Barking Food Forest; the activities have ranged from weaving, sewing, textiles and craft, gardening, poetry and drawing. Residents have also enjoyed live music and catering from local producers!

Following our final workshops will be a GROW celebration event on Saturday 3 September at Barking Food Forest.

JOIN US: 12pm to 4pm

Barking Food Forest, Fielders Crescent, Barking, IG11 0FU

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

Director blog August 2022 – Impact-led Strategy

Our vision is of a ‘diverse and vibrant community where residents are driving change’. The vision is of residents driving change – residents as leaders not followers. That is the world as it should be not as it is. That is why it is a vision – a vision is a vivid dream; we are in the business of selling dreams. Of creating the world as it should be rather than scaling back our ambitions. That is a vision.   

Our mission is to ‘create positive spaces and opportunities for resident empowerment and wellbeing’. Every inch of land is monetised. Every conversation in the community and every action that impacts on communities can be liberating, to the extent that local people drive change.  Wellbeing allows people to make healthy choices and drive change in all areas of their lives.   

To enable this to happen we aim to develop leaders, nurture relationships, exert influence and support enterprise to achieve our vision and mission. 

When we started out, we tried out lots of different approaches; tech companies sometimes describe this as throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. Testing, reviewing, prototyping.   

We’ve done large scale growth summits attended by hundreds of people, weekly leadership classes for young citizens, social enterprise workshops, door knocking, street stalls, leafleting to every household on the area, meetings with politicians and bigwigs, monthly forums on planning and conservation, arts based events, community gardening, litter picking, campaigns, resident action groups, online arts classes, sports activities, walks and talks, newsletters and newspapers, videos, away days, training of all descriptions, volunteering programmes, service delivery, partnerships and collaborations across the borough, in fact across London, nationally and internationally.   

We have done a lot of things. A lot of events, meetings, outreach, activities, training etc. So what? How do we know it made a difference? How do we know it delivered our vision, mission and aims? We need to get smart, to work smarter. We will never know if we made the kind of impact we hoped for in our vision, mission and aims unless we spell out what impact we want in ways that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timed, evaluated and reviewed.   

Impact-led strategy is about being led by the impact you want to create and being your purpose as an organization, rather than having a purpose (Fisher 2020). It is very easy for any organization or group to be busy being busy, never pausing to consider if actions are having the right kind of impact. This strategic reflection needs to go with the flow because sometimes the same groups over-think things instilling a kind of paralysis by analysis. There is a sweet spot whereby the actions and analysis go hand in hand, so that impact is at the forefront. That’s the place I’m keen to inhabit. That is the place where true change is made. 

Matthew Scott 

TWCP Director 

Summer sorted! Check out local activities!

Summer events at Sue Bramley Centre Community Hub:

Day

Time

Activity

How to Book

1 August 2022

10:00 – 11:30 & 12:30 -14:00

Stay & Play

No booking required

1 August 2022

12:30 – 13:30

Chair Based Exercise

No booking required

2 August 2022

12:30 – 14:30

Visual Art Classes

Book via – alex@twcp.org.uk

2, 3 & 5 August 2022

09:30 – 12:30

Bow Art

Booking required

3 August 2022

10:00 -12:00

Tea & Toast – along with fun activities

No booking required

3 August 2022

11:00 – 13:00

Well Me!

Book via – makeyourmarkbandd@gmail.com

4 August 2022

16:30 – 18:00

Kids Cooking School

Charges apply call 07946899933 for more information

5 August 2022

10:00 – 11:00

Summer Crafts – Sand Art

No booking required

 

Day

Time

Activity

How to Book

8 August 2022

10:00 -11:30 & 12:30 -14:00

Stay & Play

No booking required

8 August 2022

12:30 – 13:30

Chair Based Exercise

No booking required

9 August 2022

12:30 – 14:30

Visual Art Classes

Book via – alex@twcp.org.uk

9 August 2022

11:00

Tim Smith – entertainer

No booking required

10 August 2022

10:00 -12:00

Tea & Toast – along with fun activities

No booking required

10 August 2022

11:00 – 13:00

Well Me

Book via – makeyourmarkbandd@gmail.com

11 August 2022

16:30 – 18:00

Kids Cooking School

Charges apply call 07946899933 for more information

12 August 2022

10:00 – 11:00

Giant Game Club

No Booking required

 

Day

Time

Activity

How to Book

15 August 2022

10:00 -11:30

Story Time

No booking required

15 August 2022

10:00 – 14:00

School Out

https://lbbd.gov.uk/newme-healthy-lifestyles

15 August 2022

12:30 – 13:30

Chair Based Exercise

No booking required

16 August 2022

10:00 -14:00

School Out

https://lbbd.gov.uk/newme-healthy-lifestyles

16 August 2022

12:30 – 14:30

Visual Art Classes

Book via – alex@twcp.org.uk

16 August 2022

13:00 – 15:00

Summer Film Showing

No booking required

17 August 2022

10:00 -12:00

Tea & Toast – along with fun activities

No booking required

17 August 2022

10: 00 – 14:00

School Out

https://lbbd.gov.uk/newme-healthy-lifestyles

18 August 2022

16:30 – 18:00

Kids Cooking School

Charges apply call 07946899933 for more information

19 August 2022

10:00 – 11:00

Summer Craft – Build a Suncatcher

No booking required

19 August 2022

10:00 – 14:00

School Out

https://lbbd.gov.uk/newme-healthy-lifestyles

 

Day

Time

Activity

How to Book

22 August 2022

10:00 -11:30 & 12:30 – 14:00

Stay & Play

No booking required

22 August 2022

12:30 – 13:30

Chair Based Exercise

No booking required

23 August 2022

11:00 -12:00

Summer Crafts – Canvas painting

No Booking Required

23 August 2022

12:30 – 14:30

Visual Art Classes

Book via – alex@twcp.org.uk

24 August 2022

10:00 -12:00

Tea & Toast – along with fun activities

No booking required

24 August 2022

11:00 – 13:00

Well Me

Book via – makeyourmarkbandd@gmail.com

25 August 2022

16:30 – 18:00

Kids Cooking School

 

Charges apply call 07946899933 for more information

26 August 2022

10:00 – 11:00

Summer Crafts – Build a 3D Scene

No booking required

Day

Time

Activity

How to Book

29 August 2022 – Hub Closed – Bank Holiday

31 August 2022

10:00 -12:00

Tea & Toast – along with fun activities

No booking required

31 August 2022

11:00 – 13:00

Well Me!

Book via – makeyourmarkbandd@gmail.com

31 August 2022

13:30 – 16:00

Summer at Sue Bramley – event

No Booking Required

 

The RiverView Summer 2022 Issue is OUT NOW

The Resident Editorial Board (REB) have just finished the third issue of The RiverView! It’s our Summer 2022 issue and the REB have been excited to share local stories, exciting updates on developments in the area; including celebrating our new overground station, and fun activities for the whole family over the summer!

Residents in Thames View, Barking Riverside and Scrattons Farm will receive a copy of our new issue in the post over the next coming weeks. We will also have further copies available to pick up in community hubs across the Ward including the Sue Bramley Centre, Rivergate Centre and the Wilds Ecology Centre.

Check out our digital edition

[dflip id="9087" ][/dflip]

Let us know what you think!

It’s really important to us to know what you think about your local paper so we want to hear from you! Have a read of the paper and let us know your thoughts, from how you engage with it, to content and any other ideas you might have.

What’s next?

The resident editorial board is getting prepared to work on our upcoming issue and we would love to welcome new REB members! If you’re interested in learning how to produce a local newspaper and keen to be a part of our team please email zainab@twcp.org.uk

 

For more information on future publications click here

NEW Job Vacancy: Thames Life Governance Manager

Thames Life Governance Manager

The Governance Manager will play an integral part in the day to day running of Thames Life. Working closely with the Director and co-chairs of the Trustee Board, they will act as a source of governance advice and manage all aspects of Trustee Board and other committee meetings as required. The Governance Manager will also support the internal operations of the charity including confidential HR matters and compliance with relevant charity legislation.

At Thames Life, formerly known as Thames Ward Community Project, we believe that long term sustainable change is only possible when it is defined and led by local people, who initiate their own agenda and build it from within the local community.  Our vision is of a ‘diverse and vibrant community where residents are driving change’ and our mission is to ‘create positive spaces and opportunities for resident empowerment and wellbeing’.  We have established a charity which is led by resident trustees and fulfils the role of a Community Development Trust to develop this work. 

Benefits include hybrid working with flexibility to work from home around 50% of the time and with occasional weekend and evening meetings required.

Salary: £33,324.00  pro rata (14 – 21 hours a week (04 – 0.6 FTE) (Hours negotiable)

Closing date: 11th August 2022 12:00 midday

Please complete application form

Interviews to take place on 18th August 2022

Want a cookie?

We use cookies on this site to keep it working properly and to collect information about how it is performing. You can read about how that information is used here.

By remaining on this site you agree to the terms of our Privacy Policy