Really BIG SOCIETY in action in the heart of East End of London
Teviot members and volunteers receiving award
In neighbourhood of Poplar; which is mainly a residential area of the East End of London in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets we have discovered a true and effective of BIG SOCIETY in action. Residents of one of the local and socially underprivileged housing estate called Teviot have come together as a community to resolve their various social and local issues.
They formed a community group which they called Teviot Action Group (TAG). Through the group they worked together and successfully campaigned for bringing the public transport near Teviot Estate in order to tackle head on the isolation from the mainstream East London life (shops, hospital, train station, clinics, entertainment and leisure). Transport of London brought in Bus number 309.
They have also successfully campaigned of installation of CCTV cameras withinTeviot estate in order to monitor and deter anti social behaviours and selling of drugs which was affecting local youth.
One local resident and member of TAG management committee said: ‘’ since the success of these campaigns, we have gain strong confidence of our community ability to contribute in improving the quality of our lives, we have also gain awareness of our power to influence changes’’
TAG members with lots of enthusiasm decided to tackle head-on the issue of high adult illiteracy rate in their neighbourhood. They identified local residents in need of that support and those who can contribute as volunteers to address is. They set up adult education classes which provided literacy support to local adult residents. These classes were run and delivered by local residents who are literate and they provide those lessons on voluntary basis.
In the last 5 years, this literacy provided at the community level has amazingly reduced local illiteracy rate and given confidence to local previously uneducated adult to undertake form training in local adult learning centres.
In the same way volunteers supervised by qualified tutors are also providing supplementary classes and home work support for local children who are underachieving in local primary and secondary education.
TAG eventually has grown to become a social enterprise and was registered as a community interest company. Since then they have created additional various initiative such as karate classes for children, hair dressing saloon and training, IT classes,to address various local issues.
Considering that Poplar and particularly Teviot estate has multicultural communities, they have also established social and cultural activities which facilitate cultural exchange and harmonious community cohesion in order to foster a sense of belonging in multicultural society.
TAG work has recently enable them to become runner-up of 2010 British Grassroots Action Award in category of ‘’Best Actions in influencing policies and public services’’
Crissy Townsend who is the current coordinator of TAG and recent became Lifetime community champion winner of 2010 British Grassroots Action Award said: ‘on daily basis our small community based actions are amazingly making impact in our people’s lives and in long-term they facilitating our community social mobility which is currently our most important issue’’
There are obviously a lot that policy makers, government and local authorities can learn from TAG, they have reminded us that actually the power to make really and sustainable social changes should be go back to where it should belong ‘’ to the people.
On presenting them the award the LCSI CEO’s said
‘’At this rate of community participation combined with your continuous and sustainable innovation in developing services that address your own social issues, you will be eventually be able to transform your community and neighbourhood and change from the being called ‘underprivileged communities and neighbourhood. Your actions are a really reflection of how a BIG SOCIETY should be implimented and accomplished’’
More information about TAG can be found at http://www.teviotactiongroup.org.uk/