Inevitably, a lot of venues and initiatives in London are thinking ‘What do we do next?’ right now, as lockdown starts to ease across the capital. But for one youth centre in Homerton, it’s more a case of ‘How do we keep doing what we’ve been doing?’ Not that it wants to prolong the crisis, but because the last few months have seen a dramatic community effort in one of London’s most deprived areas and it wants to preserve and foster as much of that momentum as possible for as long as possible.
In April, Concorde Youth Centre and Made Up Kitchen began collecting surplus food and transforming it into 1,000 meals and 150 bags of shopping a week to help feed the local community. Concorde is located on the Kingsmead Estate near the River Lee Navigation and Hackney Marshes, in an area which has suffered decades of neglect and impoverishment. The story of people coming together to help needy neighbours is one that we’ve all heard countless times since lockdown began. But for Concorde, there’s been another effect, one that they now want to build on.
Young people from the area have been involved directly in the project – cooking food, packing and delivering meals, planting seedlings, filming and documenting what was going on and interviewing locals. Now the Concorde Centre is fundraising to grow that and offer more opportunities to young people in the area. It’s not just about surviving the current crisis, it’s about surviving the crisis that is the future: ‘Real change happens from providing computers so our young children can complete schoolwork,’ it says, ‘and filmmaking equipment so they can change the narrative of how young Black people are portrayed.’
For Concorde and its surrounding neighbourhood, the £30,000 target it seeks is the chance to reimagine what a mutually supportive community in the capital of the UK might look like. As Kiran from Made Up Kitchen says, interviewed by local filmmakers ACP Network: ‘There’s usually this imbalance: one group of people get the opportunity to help and another are the people being helped. We need opportunities where we support each other.’
One young person involved says this about the last ten weeks: ‘It’s an amazing feeling to know that your community has your back and that everyone in your community is willing to support you in different ways – from young people to old people – creating something with the bare minimum.’
Find details of the fundraising page here.