What got you interested in working in Barking and Dagenham?
I started coming to Barking about six years ago and performed poetry a few times at the Broadway through my involvement with the Barbican. I really liked the area and it’s probably the place in London that reminds me most of Salford, where I’m from. When a job came up here that involved working with the community, I just felt drawn to it.
What are your hopes for the borough?
I don’t think change happens by someone coming in and saying ‘I know how to make Barking & Dagenham better’, I think it happens when people are able to come together and discuss what they want and need the borough to be. My ambitions are to make those conversations happen and then move towards a shared vision together. To do that, we need to find out what a person needs in order to feel like they can able to take part in that discussion, and work with them to make it happen.
How do you think the community can help achieve those goals?
The starring role, of course! Without the community, the work I’m doing doesn’t have much meaning. It’d be like me playing my flute on my own and calling it an orchestra. Even if B&D Giving sees remarkable growth over the next few years, we won’t be able to be in all parts of the borough so the community is how we will find new ideas and other resources that can be shared. If two heads are better than one, what might two hundred thousand accomplish?