This week, members of churches and mosques in Shadwell were involved in a unique co-design event. It was the latest stage in an exciting journey of community organising for affordable homes in the area.
Angus Ritchie explains more about the work in a new report by UK Onward and Create Streets on Creating Communities: Places beyond the Pandemic. The full report – which includes a keynote address by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP – is online here. Below, we reproduce Angus’ essay – with a short video telling the story of the co-design process so far…
Why we’re co-creating local homes by a Grade I listed church
Over the last four years, the people of the church (and the wider parish) of St George-in-the-East has been learning the power of community organising to bring people together across difference to improve their neighbourhoods. We are learning how to listen more deeply to one another, and to take action on the issues that concern us.
In this local listening process, decent and affordable housing has come out as one of the most urgent issues. Members of St George’s have worked with neighbours in other churches and mosques, schools and tenants’ associations in Citizens UK – on a range of issues, from winning new lampposts in an unlit park to securing forty affordable homes on a piece of land on Cable Street.
Now we are exploring something even more ambitious.
When Nicholas Hawksmoor built our church, it was set in the midst of housing destroyed during the Blitz. There are members of our congregation who remember playing in the ruins of those homes. As part of Create Streets and Citizens UK’s community co-design process, we hope to develop beautiful and affordable homes on that same site today, and to secure temporary accommodation for homeless people on undeveloped land immediately opposite.
Listening, discerning and acting form a virtuous circle; each time we go round that “circle,” we emerge with stronger relationships and more confident local leaders. We’re delighted to be working with Create Streets and Citizens UK, not only to develop exciting plans, but to organise together to turn them into realities.