Based on discussions with over 300 residents and with staff and students from Riverside School, the project will focus around three areas of activity:

Practical initiatives with young people

  • Training them to listen to/interview and work with residents, so that students build relationships across the community; ensuring that the project remains rooted in what residents care about and is ‘owned’ and led by local people.
  • A local history project where pupils will explore the lives and experience of long-term and more recently arrived residents and develop exhibition and web-based materials that tell a positive story about Thames Ward and celebrate the diversity of the community.
  • Volunteering – students will volunteer, as part of the school’s ‘active citizenship programme’, to help clear overgrown gardens for elderly and disabled residents and spearhead the wider environmental projects outlined below.

An inter-generational ‘Community Gardening’ project

To help transform Thames Ward from being one of the most polluted areas in the borough to being one of the most productive, and in the process create opportunities for skills development and jobs. It will also help to improve health and life-skills and foster community cohesion between the settled community and families moving into new housing, and between residents from different ethnic backgrounds. It’s main aims are:

  • To tackle environmental neglect by restoring community spaces such as the Nature Reserve and by turning at least two derelict open spaces into community gardens and allotments.
  • To provide a tool-library and seed bank, and restore unkempt gardens through volunteering.
  • To establish a ‘gardening resource centre’ at the school with opportunities for training and potentially for local employment.

Community-led facilities for families and children

In collaboration with the Sue Bramley Children’s Centre and other partners, the project will seek to improve local provision for families and the elderly by:

  • Supporting existing community projects and developing new community projects such as English language classes, play-schemes, activities around food, art and music.
  • Strengthening existing family support groups and opening up new facilities in the school for parents and teenagers.
  • Working with partners to improve play provision.

Community Development Trust (CDT):

Building on these community-led activities, we aim to establish a CDT in order to provide a more viable, long-term framework for community participation and support for community enterprise. Over the next three years, the project will help our partners broker their investment and intentions with the whole community; help residents to access new training and job opportunities; identify and support community enterprises; generate additional income for a sustainable future, and help provide a strong community voice in relation to the development programme.

This represents an ambitious vision for the project but we think it is achievable. It is an idea that residents welcome and it will enable the school, having launched and nurtured the project, to become a partner in a broad-based community organisation, which is a more sustainable way forward.