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Thames Life awarded £5K from Mayor’s Community Resilience Fund

We have great news! Thames Life has been awarded a grant of £5K under round two of the Mayor’s Community Resilience Fund. The Community Resilience Fund is part of  ongoing work to ensure London remains resilient and prepared for future challenges. 

We join a network of 22 community organisations partnering with their respective emergency planning teams to delivery emergency preparedness strategies as unique and  diverse as the needs of each of the participating London boroughs.

The funding supports community organisations to work together with their local authority emergency planning teams to best prepare for emergencies in their London boroughs. 

Thames Life as a member of BD Collective accepted to act as an interim convenor with the scope of establishing a Community Resilience Network. The project, the BD Community Resilience Network, is an extension of our work with the British Red Cross and will focus on enabling better connections, accountability and trust between social sector organisations, existing networks and statutory responders to improve the resilience of Barking and Dagenham in the face of emergencies.

The development of a tailored Community Resilience Network as part of BD Collective will allow for the development of a transparent and accountable network that will provide a link between the newly established Barking and Dagenham BRF and the broader voluntary and community sector in Barking and Dagenham.

The Community Resilience Network will work with other members of BD Collective and their existing networks to develop an understanding of existing capabilities and needs within the sector and together with the BRF develop plans to secure increased preparedness and understanding of risks. This will include: Increased community preparedness for emergencies, through joint planning, improved relationships between VCS and statutory agencies, and improved communications channels for responding to emergencies.


Wellbeing Navigators Receives £10K Funding

The Wellbeing Navigators Programme recently received £10k from LBBD’s connect fund to run events that combat social isolation in Thames Ward. Other groups given the funding include Company Drinks, Ultimate Counselling Services, Future Molds, Harmony House, and Rights Development Services. They will be using the fund to expand their existing services as well as putting on new exciting events: such as Company Drinks who will be creating a ‘queer (LGBTQ+) garden’, reminiscent garden (for the OAPs) and others. Harmony house will be using the funding to give their workers more quality time with each contact, getting them the person centred help they require. 

Wellbeing Navigators will be using the money to run new additional events that residents want: such as gardening, arts, sports and wellness groups. We chose these activities as a way to give residents a positive focus, to take our minds off our post lockdown worries and on to something positive and life affirming. To ground our thoughts back to our neighbourhood and the people in it – reconnecting us with our community. 

During these activities, residents will be able to chat to wellbeing navigators in a relaxed setting about further wellness options and services.

We are still offering residents an amazing free resident to resident, 1-2-1 support through warm conversations with motivational interviewing and signposting to other fun activities and helpful services.

For more information email

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.

Riverside News’ Relaunch as Resident-Led Paper

We end November 2021 with the re-launch of Riverside News as a resident-led local newspaper for Thames View and Barking Riverside! See the digital version of the paper below.

The Project

Previously run by Barking Riverside Limited, until having been approached by local resident and TWCP steering group member in 2015, Yasir Imran discussed with BRL the possibility of joining up the newspaper with the work being done by TWCP, which was positively received. 

BRL have since partnered with TWCP and Social Spider CIC, providing funding to help transform Riverside News into a sustainable resident-led newspaper. The vision was to create a resident editorial board (REB) made up of local people who will lead in the design, production and distribution of this paper. The REB has now been established with currently three local residents; Emmanuel Oreyeni, Venilia Amorim, and Zahra Awani, being trained and supported by Social Spider to produce the current issue and next issue.


The Future

The hope is that Riverside News will be a social business that reinvests into the community and champions local voices and skills.

Riverside News will continue as a quarterly local newspaper providing local residents with updates about the latest happenings in Thames Ward and sharing community stories. If you have an idea for a story or are a local business who wants a feature in the upcoming issue please contact

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Barking Food Forest and Riverside Bridge School receive £10K from GLA Climate Kick-Start Fund!

Barking Food Forest and Riverside Bridge School, supported by Thames Ward Community Project, have been successful in a joint application to the London Schools’ Climate Kick-Start Green Schools Grant, and will receive £10K for the projects! Out of all the schools in London that applied, we were 1 of only 5 that were successful. 

The proposal was for funding to create solar-powered rain-fed watering and electricity systems for both sites that will be fully self-sustainable and renewable, supported by a qualified permaculture teacher and electrical system consultants. 

The funding will purchase:

  • A durable greenhouse for the Riverside Bridge School edible garden, to replace their previous one that had blown away.
  • A performance stage for BFF with an integrated rainwater harvesting roof , under-deck water storage and solar powered irrigation system.
  • Solar panels for both sites.
  • A portable solar electric system for BFF.
  • Specialist consultations.
  • Teaching hours from a permaculture specialist.

Student and wider community engagement

The project will hugely increase the students’ exposure to local wildlife, climate and pollution issues, engaging them in regular outdoor activities. Students will see, hear, smell and feel the natural world and their own roles as custodians and guardians.The irrigation and renewable energy systems will enable the projects to continue food growing activities through the seasons and be a working example of regenerative resource management, modelling how we can aim to not only be neutral in our environmental impact, but actually climate positive.BFF weekly sessions have already begun and students have been bringing siblings and parents along to participate. The central and highly visible location of the project aids in the project acting as a bridge between the student body and the wider local community.Students will gain exposure to local, organic fruit and vegetable production: renewable electrical energy and the shared experience of working together with others to create a long term asset for the local area. As a result it will improve students’ sense of agency and give them a skill set they can take forward in their lives as young adults of the future.

A Month of Barking Food Forest

Here at TWCP, we pride ourselves on being genuinely resident-led, and there’s nothing that expresses this in its truest form more than the Barking Food Forest. From the beginning, the site itself was secured through the hard campaigning work and drive of the Young Citizen Action Group at Riverside School, who after 2 years managed to take possession of the keys for the community garden site from BRL. Community effort continued with successful grant applications supported by TWCP. Fast forward to our co-design sessions, which were a hit with young people and residents, the long awaited GPR scan of the grounds, and we were finally ready to start in-person sessions at the end of August. 

Where are we now?

It’s been a journey filled with collaborating, learning, and of course hard work. We’ve been steadily building momentum through various meetings with key stakeholders, co-design sessions with local people, collaborating with local organisations, such as Every One Every Day and taking others on that journey with us through our online channels. To note some key moments:  

  • JM2 Group have supported in maintaining the site. 
  • Going Picking have provided much needed learning in terms developing this project through meetings and a tour of their own site. 
  • Make:Good architecture and design studio has been working with Riverside students and the BFF team to design a Pavilion that will be built on the site. 

We are all grateful for the support we’ve received but our greatest and most important connection has been with the residents. Over the month, we have been able to engage with residents of all ages, from all walks of life, seeking a space where they can learn and be free in. Over the past 5 weeks we have enjoyed sessions building planters, building the compost area, planting bulbs, watering, digging and socialising! 

It's been a real whirlwind start to Barking Food Forest. It's encouraging to see lots of enthusiasm & hard work from the community so early in the project. Organisations have given invaluable support which really helps at this challenging start up phase. We've had a lot of fun & got a lot done, I'm really looking forward to seeing where we will be this time next year!

ARTiculate your journey this Black History Month

Over the past few months, we’ve been hard at work with our Arts and Culture steering group members thinking about the importance of Black History Month in the UK and in particular our locality of Barking and Dagenham. All having lived in the area for over 10 years, in reflecting on their own experiences of being Black in Britain wanted to create an event that would have others thinking about their own journeys to understanding their identity.

A successful application to the LBBD’s Equality & Diversity Community fund meant £500 being provided to plan a local event and the start of their own journey working together as residents. ‘ARTiculate the Journey’ is a free (donations are welcome) interactive and social painting event exploring the theme of ‘Journey’ this Black History Month, with food and refreshments provided. All funds raised will be reinvested into future arts events in Thames Ward. The event will showcase the talents of DJ @TheKingsDecree, Poet @Swvrthy and Artist @Oreyeni_Arts, supported by @ThamesWardCP. We will vibe to music, get inspired with some spoken word, and have some fun painting and discussing the journey taken by Black people throughout history.

There are many ways to express how we really feel, and that is the beauty of art. That's why this event allows us to ARTiculate our journey whilst exploring Black History through creative art forms of expression. We want to provide a space to express experiences creatively and to open up discussions around how the community truly feels.

Inside TWCP: A Part of Positive Change – Anna Pollard

I don’t know about you, but I have never lived anywhere quite like this. As someone with young kids, living on a building site surrounded by big construction vehicles could be living the dream, though I think the novelty even for them has worn off already. As a resident in Thames Ward and more recently in Riverside itself, walking past the different building works most days, the pace of change can be overwhelming. Like so many of us, I want to be part of seeing this community thriving.  

Trying to picture the future so that I can feel a part of it, feels hard a lot of the time. So when I heard about TWCP, I was really excited about its vision to bring people together to be part of the change and shape a positive future for us all and not just wait for it to be ‘done to’ us. There are too many examples of where large-scale development has led to gentrification and segregation of communities. The diversity we have is one of the main things that attracted me to live here and raise my kids in a community full of different cultures and experiences. I want to celebrate that and not lose it, TWCP does too. 

Time has done some funny things the past 18 months, so when I was asked to write this post, including how I got involved in TWCP, I had to squint my eyes to look back and remember pre-covid times. I’d been living in Thames View just under a year before we entered the first lockdown and I’d got involved in TWCP almost immediately. With my family we had been trying to move here for most of a year before we finally arrived. We moved because my husband and I were appointed by the Church of England to form a new church community as the Riverside area expands.  

I was introduced to Matt and Jamie and enjoyed a coffee with them at Riverside Coffee Lounge in autumn 2018. Hearing about what they were hoping to achieve in the development of TWCP was really exciting. So much of what they were talking about, was exactly what I was passionate about and how I wanted to start our new church community. From that conversation, I knew that I would be getting more involved, though I didn’t know everything that was to come.  

Once living here, I got stuck in with the Steering Group, getting to know others on the board and loved hearing everyone’s stories and reasons for being a part of it. The thing I enjoyed most, was how the steering group was a real mix of people from right across the Ward and all walks of life, but with a shared passion for our community and being a part of positive change here.  

A few months ago I was asked if I would consider becoming Co-Chair alongside Josiah, as we’d be losing the wonderful Kelly when she moved out of the area. It has been humbling to take this on because we are at a really key moment in the development of TWCP, where the resident leadership is becoming more fully realised and our impact is growing rapidly. Acting as co-chair is a first for me and I’m grateful to be sharing this with Josiah because we complement each other well, and Matt, Jamie and the staff are a fabulous support to help us work towards a really exciting future.  

For many of us (myself included) the last few months have been trying to emerge from this strange and strained online life, often juggling kids at home a lot more (homeschooling = stressful!!). The TWCP team have done a phenomenal job and are emerging out of our lockdowns, with more funding to allow us to grow, an expanded staff team to explore and develop new directions and see resident led change become a reality.  

I’m excited to see how the future unfolds, because through the development of TWCP we have the possibility to be a strong and resilient community, that is able to harness and release the amazing talent we have in this ward for the good of those who are here now and the generations to come. With the centenary of the Becontree Estate, it’s got me thinking what will Thames be like in 100 years. My hope is that it is full of life, where people of all backgrounds share food and friendship, where housing is secure and safe, where employment is fulfilling and rewarding and our young people grow to be brave and kind leaders not only here but in communities far and wide.  

Anna Pollard

Co-chair and resident trustee of TWCP

Inside TWCP: Artist Through Community – Emmanuel

My name is Emmanuel Oreyeni AKA Oreyeni Arts, and I would like to tell you about my story of how I became the artist I am today, through the community.

At the end of year 11, I was introduced to Jamie through the drawings I gave to my teachers, before the last day of secondary school. We then met each other and he told me about TWCP, asking if I would be able to do something for the Growth Summit and we agreed on a small drawing series called the ‘Local Heroes’. This was inspired by how it reminded me of the Avengers; as individuals they have their flaws but in a group they are the earth’s mightiest heroes!

Since then, TWCP has given me the edge to do more with my art and turned it into a career! They have taught me not to wait for things to come to me but to make them happen by seeking out opportunities. So I did! From working with them I expanded my network by working with the Council on numerous projects; including the virtual Christmas festival, and ‘One Borough, One Love’ festival. I also became the youngest steering group member to receive funding at the age of 17, and designed a programme of drawing sessions in early lockdown. Now, I’m painting murals for large companies like Be First and the McLaren Construction Group and most recently for BRL – a mural for their Wilds Ecology Centre in Barking Riverside. I am so proud of what I have achieved from the very beginning of my career until now and I’m excited for university; to study art and see where art will take me next!

In the future, I hope to become well known not just because of my work but because of how young I started and what I was able to do. I now have confidence in my work through the Community Comics and numerous other art based projects and connecting with TWCP opened the door to these opportunities. Even with social media, I remember having only a few followers but now I see it growing. It’s not a rapid increase but one that progresses as my artwork progresses and that is what I love, the progression! After university I plan to do more work professionally and to gain experience in other related fields such as film, costume design, fashion, it could be anything!

Emmanuel Oreyeni

Local artist and TWCP steering group member

Meet our (new) Deputy Director, Jamie Kesten

Jamie isn’t a new member of staff, having joined TWCP back in November 2017 at the very beginning of the project as a Community Organiser, however following TWCP’s continuation funding from the Big Lottery and a review of the organisations needs by TWCP Trustees he is moving into a new role as TWCP’s Deputy Director.

The new role will incorporate five main areas of responsibility:

  1. Strategic oversight of programmes
  2. Strategic oversight of communications
  3. Income generation
  4. Demonstrating social impact
  5. Stakeholder engagement
Jamie is excited about the new role and the additional responsibilities and opportunities that come along with it to help support the organisations growing team and wider strategic journey.
I joined TWCP because I was looking for an opportunity to be involved in work that positively impacted real peoples lives, after years spent working in a research environment. Working to support local residents of Thames Ward of all ages, backgrounds and experiences over these last 3 and a bit years has given me just that and I am proud of the meaningful connections TWCP has built with the talented residents of the ward and the incredible events, programmes and opportunities that we have helped make possible over this time. I am excited to continue supporting the great work of local young people, residents and community groups, supported by key local stakeholders, as TWCP solidifies it’s position in the borough as a champion and convenor of the local community as it continues to evolve and grow.
Jamie Kesten, Deputy Director – Thames Ward Community Project


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