Geraud de Ville de Goyet
Why does working in Barking and Dagenham interest you?
Barking and Dagenham reminds me of some of the mining towns of the South of Belgium, my home country. Sometimes nostalgic of their industrial grandeur they have tirelessly sought to turn their past into an asset, and to reinvent themselves by building on, not around, their strong identity and community spirit. I find this really inspiring and I am proud to be part of this local movement for change.
What are some challenges and triumphs of your role?
As a new social infrastructure organisation for the borough, 2020 has been quite a year for us. The pressure created by the pandemic on the local social sector means that we have had to identify ways to distribute grants much faster than what we could have anticipated. We have also secured an agreement with the Council to establish a Community Endowment Fund, which will leave a legacy for future generations.
I am well aware that this creates a lot of expectations and responsibilities on my part, and rightly so! I am determined to see Barking and Dagenham Giving become a pillar of the borough’s social infrastructure, enabling others to do what they do best: working with and supporting our local community.
What are your ambitions for the borough?
I want Barking and Dagenham to succeed in its ambition to create an inclusive – and I would add – sustainable economy. From redesigning high streets around community needs to the delivery of affordable housing for everyone, from rethinking personal and collective mobility to delivering local plans to address the climate emergency, I want everyone to feel they have a stake in their community and to know their opinion matters.
What role does the community have in realising that ambition?
Positive change can only happen by working alongside people. That is why we have set out to be the borough’s first Participatory Grant Maker. By this I mean that our goal is to remove ourselves as much as possible and facilitate a process that enables others to make decisions on how our funding should be allocated. This is not a straightforward thing to do and we often encounter unexpected challenges, but the relationships we are developing along this path are absolutely amazing and worth all our efforts!