Rachel Laurence

Rachel Laurence is a community economic practitioner who combines a background in community development and youth work, and local economic development policy and practice expertise. Currently supporting London Borough of Barking and Dagenham’s Inclusive Growth team with post-covid Economic Development strategy and programmes, Rachel also works with a range of organisations across the statutory, voluntary and SME sectors to develop economic systems that are equitable, sustainable, and build community wealth.
What got you interested in working in Barking and Dagenham?

The borough is at such an exciting juncture. After several years now of a different kind of leadership from the statutory sector that is starting to build up infrastructure and lock wealth more effectively into the local economy, there is a real opportunity for local economic development to align closely with community and civic infrastructure work. The possibilities are huge, but will only be fully realised if the civic infrastructure is able not just to thrive and grow, but also to contribute in concrete ways to shifting how the local economy works for the community. BD Giving plays such a critical role in this civic infrastructure and can be a real pivot point between SME, VCS and local government partners.

What challenges do you think you might face in this role?

After decades of under-investment and public sector cuts, community infrastructure across the country faces real challenges. The kind of work that BD Giving is seeking to strengthen and build is not easy in this context!

What are your hopes for the borough?

Barking and Dagenham is absolutely packed full of energy, creativity, passion and talent. It’s also full of institutions and businesses who are up for trying new things, and want to invest time, energy and commitment for the long haul. My ambition for the borough is that all of this amazing pool of resource can be mobilised in a way that really improves living standards for everyone in the borough.

How do you think the community can help achieve those goals?

The community holds the creative energy, knowledge and capacity to create a sustainable and prosperous local economy that is equitable. It also holds the relationships and institutions that will enable all parts of different communities to participate in society fully.

"The most exciting thing about Barking and Dagenham Giving is the diversity of experience, resources, knowledge and energy that the borough holds; the level of ambition and vision in its SME, VCS and public sector institutions; and the quality of collaboration between partners."