The event was attended by 20+ local residents, as well as residents from other London boroughs, all keen to explore black identity through art.
Having lived and grown up in Thames View for over 20 years, I have seen many changes in the area and always wondered how one becomes a part of change in the area. How can I be a part of something that is progressive in the area, and where is the opportunity to give back to the community that influenced the person I am today. With all the changes happening, are we building a community that future generations can benefit from and feel a sense of belonging? Do the young people have a voice/platform to be able to be a part of the community or just be labelled as a nuisance to the community. These are a few questions, which were constantly in my mind.
My involvement with TWCP started by being invited to a meeting at Riverside School about the Opera House coming to do workshops in the area. Due to my work as a music producer/DJ I was intrigued as to how this would work in the local area as this was all new to me. This began to spark ideas on whether I could run some music workshops locally. I was introduced to Jamie and had a great conversation where we spoke on the local challenges and concepts of resident-led initiatives, which would allow residents to be a part of shaping the community. This seemed like a perfect solution to some of the questions that I had and as time went on, I became more involved.
My new role as Co-chair
My new role as co-chair, first of all let me say it’s an honour! To be honest I never saw it coming however it a privilege being able to share my views on my community. I never want anyone to feel like I’m the only voice for the community because I’m not. Having lived in the locality I feel I provide a view point that is needed. I too am also in a learning process, which can be daunting but I’m happy to be here serving the community that has shaped me.
The Future of TWCP and Thames Ward
Coretta Scott King once said “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” My dad always used to tell me this African proverb “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
You may ask why I have said this, I feel the residents of Thames Ward have shown where its heart is via the various resident initiatives being set up reaching the community. I believe in order for us to go far together as a community group we need to be on the same page strategically showing how the community voice is heard. If we educate ourselves on the ways we can be solution-focused when talking to partners like the council, developer and other stakeholders, being bold but strategic in our asks to do great things.
I’m really excited to see the growth of TWCP within Thames Ward and the borough, achieving our mission of being a catalyst for sustainable community-led change. That goal may take on different forms and may be subject to change due to the nature of change happening within the borough. I would love to see in the near future community assets being placed in the hands of the community to run. It would be my dream to have a local music studio in order to develop young local talent within the area and provide work experience for those who have career ambitions in the music industry. Ultimately, whatever form sustainable change looks like, at its core it will always place the community first and create a space where resident voice is seen, heard, and valued.
Co-chair and resident trustee of TWCP
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.
Young people welcomed the return of beginner DJ workshops in the community by local resident Josiah Oyekunle (@thekingsdecree)! One student (Yamani) enjoyed his first session so much that he booked another slot the following day. In that session, he was able to curate and create his first mix and DJ for the creative Wellness kids summer programme during their break.
Josiah was grateful to Sue Bramley for hosting the workshops, which he looks to continue. He commented on the importance of a collaboration of community initiatives, which he said allows for a more closer bond within community!
Emmanuel Oreyeni, Founder of Young ARTivists, received the great news that his arts-based social justice movement had received 26% of the Thames Talk poll votes, and so secured £1300. Thames Talk, a community engagement platform created by Barking Riverside Limited, directly involves local residents in decisions made for Thames Ward. Participants take part by completing the polls to automatically receive digital ‘coins’ which are then donated in return for real cash rewards for local groups.
What is Young ARTivists?
Young ARTivists (YA) is a new youth-led and arts-based social justice movement for young people in Thames Ward who want to use their talents in art, dance, drama, film, music, and poetry to raise awareness on issues affecting the youth of Thames Ward. YA offers fun and creative ways to elevate the voices of young people and an opportunity to empower them to take action on issues they are passionate about for the benefit of their community.
The project is supported by TWCP and will work closely with the Young Citizen Action Group (YCAG).
The funding will support the running of a four-month initial programme to engage the young people in Thames Ward who want to use their artistic talents to raise awareness of, and get their voices heard on, issues they are passionate about, engaging the wider community using their creativity and critical thinking.
The programme will be based on social issues chosen by the young people. Weekly sessions will be run by Emmanuel incorporating a range of different artistic mediums to allow participants to develop their skills together to start building a network of powerful creatives seeking social change.
A final exhibition will be hosted to showcase the work of the young people and to engage the wider community.,
How To Get Involved
If you would like more information about the Young ARTivists programme, please complete the form below.