So much thought has gone into the Community and Wellbeing Hub, both in terms of what we hope to do here as well as what the physical space looks like. It’s all coming together. We are about to start our Workhub Residency, and we are continuing to explore what the Royal Foundation of St Katharine’s contribution to Whole Person Health might be. We are also happy to announce the hiring of Claire Sexton as our Community Project Coordinator to work with local people to create projects serving the community. The rooms we now invite you to are these:
Here we invite you to share your ideas and hear what others would like to do to improve our community and the lives of its people, and join like-minded neighbours to make them happen. We think that by working together through building gardens, swapping skills, sewing or crafting together, art and music projects, or exploring the history of our area we can enjoy ourselves, improve our community, and strangers can become friends we can trust and rely on. We’re collecting ideas now, and looking to start our first projects in the new year.
It’s been a lot of work getting to this point, however! Inspiration has come from several months of research, talking to local people about the challenges they face and what they would love to see in the community. It has also come from research into best practices and the ways other communities have been working to improve their wellbeing and building networks of mutual support.
The physical building, though, has been just as much work. We wanted everything here to be as recyclable as possible — even as our work building community and improving community health and wellbeing continues on in new spaces, this particular building can be moved to another location for another community use. This is how it arrived:
It will leave us in the same way, but we are proud to say it will be much better for its time here. These containers arrived after carrying their loads of freight from China, and were then made fit for habitation by our contractor Sascha and his team. These are the transformations they achieved:
We wanted to make this a beautiful, welcoming and unique space that could inspire creativity and conversation and live up to some extent to our beautiful yurts, and so we decided to experiment with the floor. We did some DIY painting over a couple of days (it took a very long time to dry) with a strong floor paint in a lighter shade of the same turquoise we had chosen for the hub together with help from the inspired designers at Wired Canvas, and visible on the outside of the container as the trim:
We’re still working out how much to do with the walls — for now we have some old maps, pictures and pamphlets from the Stepney Old People’s Welfare Association, found here in the 1950s. We might not do much more, they are wonderful for projecting things, and creative work laying out possible ideas for the new year:
The furniture is also part of our effort to reuse and recycle, arriving here already well-loved as gifts from The Circle Works and architect Matthew Lloyd (whose son had volunteered to paint the trim on the containers and the labels we hope are visible from the DLR). Both of them continue to inspire us in our collective work with them.
People have come forward with ideas for art and music and history projects, writing and theatre, kids’ activities and outdoor skills, crafting and sewing, reading groups and drawing with parents and children, mindfulness and discussions of philosophy, gardening and cooking. We look forward to see where we can cooperate and what we can co-create and help make happen in the coming year using this space and others that are underused and undervalued. We invite you to come in and have a chat with us or send us your suggestions through our online form here.