Why does working in Barking and Dagenham interest you?
The geographies of Barking & Dagenham are rich in difference, debate and discussion. Yet the community is bound by social, economic and cultural tensions – it is these nuances which have pulled me to work here. While I am interested in understanding what the community needs, I want to work alongside the residents. Its people are driven and ardent social innovators, pioneering for change. I want to facilitate and endorse this inspirational force.
What are your ambitions for the borough?
With a history of low civic participation, its people need a movement of change. I want to see the borough’s power and decision-making being given to all corners of the community. I don’t think anyone should be left behind.
While there are a number of inspiring organisations already here, I want to see an increased engagement with all marginalised communities. For example, more work needs to be put into LGBTQI+ causes in the borough. Changing attitudes are central to this. Difficult, yes; but not impossible.
What role does the community have in realising that ambition?
Communities can be agents of social change. This is clear with our Community Steering Group (CSG) who have already done so much in realising what stake they have in their borough and how they can use that to imbue change. More importantly, without the community, there would be no B&D Giving.
I think it’s about helping local people realise that power can be shared and they can make decisions on what happens in their home. Opening up that conversation to everyone is where it starts.