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Meet our NEW Community Development Administrative Officer!

I came across Thames Ward Community Project through a summer programme for children. I took my younger brothers to a cooking session at the Sue Bramley Centre where I met Rahela – the Health Outreach Officer who shared her vision with me and filled me in on all the amazing future projects. I was immediately interested and exchanged contact details with Rahela to find out more information and next steps on how to get involved in resident led projects. Soon after, I was invited to the first Healthy Thames Working Group meeting, which was an event dedicated to residents and partners interested in improving and developing opportunities around health in the local area. We discussed ideas and looked at ways to support future projects.    

I was considering volunteering as a wellbeing navigator after attending the meeting, but I then heard of the community administrative vacancy and decided to apply for this role as I’ve had previous experience working as a personal assistant and had completed an apprenticeship with Westminster City Council when I was younger. I knew this was going to be a great way to understand how community projects operate, support the team, and become more familiar in this area of work.  

I become interested in this role for various reasons, the main one being wanting to be part of an organisation with a strong focus on improving the health and wellbeing of local communities. My desire to work for a charity originates from my background in Nutrition and Health where I’ve had the opportunity to connect with various individuals and understand their needs, goals, and occasional barriers when trying to create positive health changes. I am particularly keen in supporting individuals through any type of health-related activities and feel most content when I can make a positive impact on others.  

As a local resident in Barking & Dagenham, I feel proud to be working for the Thames Ward Community Project where I can add value to my community and be part of a very rewarding cause. I’m excited to see the future changes and growth in the borough and within the organization. 

Nia Lopez

Community Development Administrative Officer

Inside TWCP: Pierre’s Story

My name is Pierre Epoh Moudio and I am a British Citizen but I am originally from Cameroon. I moved to the ward in 2014, and am a resident steering group member of Thames Ward Community Project (TWCP). I work as a Senior ESOL Lecturer at Barking and Dagenham College and have more than 16 years’ experience working with immigrants who need to improve their English in order to improve the quality of their lives, to get into employment and fully integrate in the new country they live in.

Why ESOL (English for Speakers of Other languages)? Teaching ESOL has always been my childhood dream and I am passionate about languages. English is actually my third language. When I arrived in the UK, I struggled to find work, make new friends in a new country and I didn’t know how things operated in the UK work environment. It was frustrating and I felt depressed. I went from one setback to another and wanted to give up. Later, I was asked to retrain and get a new qualification to meet UK standards but after doing so I got no positive reply from employers because I had no UK work experience. Luckily through voluntary work, I gained the necessary experience, made new friends, widened my network, got support from various people and organisations and successfully got my first permanent job as an ESOL Lecturer.

To give back to the community that did so much for me, I decided to set up a project that would help immigrants to work on their language and employability skills, get some work experience that will enable them whilst looking for work to compete on equal footing with the locals and make a positive contribution to their community. TWCP played a key role in the setting up of the ESOL for Parents project as I spoke to several organisations about my idea but none of them thought it was a good idea but TWCP did. They provided me with all the support I needed from applying for funding, monthly one to one check in meetings, to all the logistics. Thanks a million and this could not have happened without you. To date I have run several successful projects that have impacted not only the local residents but also residents from other boroughs. We also won two awards one from the Rotary International- Stratford branch and the other from Barking and Dagenham Faith Forum. The award was for improving access to services.

Most of the people I work with are frustrated, lack confidence and are hopeless because they have lots of skills that could benefit the UK but are not used due to poor guidance and support. My plan for the future is to work closely with local employers and get them to offer support by offering work placements to my students which will give them that vital UK work experience needed by most employers and in return boost their confidence and enable them to aim higher.

Pierre Epoh Moudio 

Inside TWCP: Meet Our New Wellbeing Navigator Coordinator, Alex Anthony!

Despite the area not always having the best of reputations, to me its wide leafy avenues have held strong feelings of warmth and neighborliness. I’ve always been aware of the pride residents have felt for their borough, having been captivated by my Aunt and Uncle’s stories of the sewing machinists at Fords, or the big street parties held in my grandparent’s ‘banjo’ not long after the building of the Becontree estate. Ever since I’ve always been interested in stories of community solidarity and our borough’s colourful history. 

Why TWCP? 

Prior to this role I’ve been lucky enough to give back to the community I worked in as a librarian and then working in special educational needs. When later I worked in regeneration I understood the importance of involving residents to steer change and the enormous difference investment could make in instilling a sense of pride in people’s towns. I hold a history degree from Royal Holloway University with a keen interest in humanitarian work. I’m an experienced researcher and campaigner, and skilled at community engagement having worked with vulnerable people in challenging situations.  

Having been able to return to work in the borough from another corner of London I feel excited to be present during a period of growth and potential for Thames Ward. I wanted this job because I’m passionate about being able to work on resident-led initiatives that promote a more equal and connected community. My new role has put me in touch with so many amazing local residents and groups who have been working hard in keeping their neighbours healthy, connected and happy both before and during the trials of lockdown. I feel very lucky to be part of our team and to know that each day our little patch of London will grow to be a little greener, healthier, and more confident community. 

Alex Anthony

Wellbeing Navigator Volunteer Coordinator

Inside TWCP: Meet our new Health Outreach Worker, Rahela Begum!

Growing up in South London I’d heard about Barking and Dagenham, and just like where I’m from, it didn’t have the best reputation. So, fast forward to 2017, when I was looking for somewhere to live and I found an affordable place in London, I couldn’t believe it. It was here in Barking that I found a lovely community on the river. The place I moved into was a houseboat! From that first day walking through the town, and when I spoke to my future neighbours, I felt at home. It had that same community feel I was missing from my childhood. The area was full of families and people who had lived here for years, as well as so many new people. It was buzzing with people who had ideas of how they wanted to change the area, and the feeling was catching. I soon got a job in the area, joining Participatory City and the Every One Every Day project. I got to work in the area I lived in and I felt so lucky because I got to meet even more people.
I started to explore the area that was now my home and my favourite way to do that was by visiting all the parks. I started falling in love with the familiar sights of the weeping willows of Greatfields. I followed the path along the lake in Barking Park to the cafe and listened to the children play in the park. I eventually got a bike and ventured to the expansive Mayesbrook and Parsloes. I wanted to get to know the borough like the people I worked with and learn about the history. So many important things have happened here! I eventually moved to Chadwell Heath onto the famous Becontree estate. With Participatory I got to work across the borough on lots of projects, but I wanted to focus my efforts and create an impact.
The Thames Ward Community Project is based in one part of the borough, separated by the A13, it’s a place with the fastest developments going up. So how do you create and keep a sense of identity and community when everything around you is changing? I have joined the team as the Health Outreach Worker, so it is my job to bridge the gap between developers, the NHS, other organisations and the residents of the area. I want to help residents create programmes and develop projects that will get people feeling healthier and happier and more involved in their community. The borough is changing and the people living here are changing, I see this as a chance for us to have a positive impact on what’s going on around us. TWCP works with residents directly and supports people to be at the forefront of the projects they want to see in the area. That’s the role I want to play in the community. I want to be behind people’s great ideas, supporting with connecting people, sharing knowledge, opportunities and helping organise ideas to make sure they are successful and long lasting.

Rahela Begum

Health Outreach Worker

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

TWCP x Konverse Dance Crews Present Cypher on the Floor

What is it?

Cypher On The Floor, an event funded by Model City, was designed to bring young people within the Thames Ward area and wider community together through the art of dance! Despite the limitations surrounding the pandemic, Cypher On The Floor maintained the importance of providing a platform where young people could still partake in physical activity and improve their mental well being.

The Impact

Two events were successfully completed online (via zoom) due to the lockdown restrictions, with a hugely encouraging 34 young people present! They competed in groups of two, four and six, across two categories – choreography and freestyle.

Round 1

The choreography round: dancers were invited to  perform a routine set by the choreographer and perform to the best of their ability. Judges were given scorecards to mark the participants. The participants with the lowest score was knocked out.

Round 2

The freestyle round: dancers were invited to perform their best freestyle routine to a random piece of music chosen by the DJ (Josiah aka The King’s Decree). Judges scored accordingly and decided the winning places for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

It was really nice to be able to do something fun other than zoom for school. It was really good seeing everyone again it's been soo long.

There were 23 winners in total over the two dates, including extra prizes that were awarded for participation. The prizes received were vouchers from JD, One4All, and Amazon. These ranged from £20 to £60. The young people were also surprised with an encouraging message from rapper Nadia Rose. They could hardly contain their excitement!

So after months of planning, and a few setbacks along the way due to Covid, it’s finally happened. It was great to provide an outlet for young people who love dance, especially during this difficult period. It's amazing watching their expression and confidence shining through even if it's through a screen on zoom. This has given me more encouragement to see this idea grow further. I know if we did this event in person it would have great success. This is just the beginning.

How to get involved?

If you are interested in getting involved in future dance events, sign up by completing the form below.

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