The findings and quotes from the Voices for Change Report have been discovered through reaching out to local people through light touch ‘forums’ and one-to-one interviews; we also developed a range of online tools including a digital questionnaire allowing people to tell their stories using as little or as much text as they wished.
The report would not have been possible without the incredible people who took time to tell us their stories. Here, you can learn more about just a handful of our contributors.
Jill works at a college as a work experience officer. She has a newly born granddaughter which she hasn't been able to see regularly, although she represents Jill’s hopes for the future. “The first lockdown was horrendous. working from home is not me. I'm a social butterfly. I love that noise, the hustle the bustle, and it put me into a terrible state, but I had therapy, I'm not afraid to admit that that was the best thing that I done”
Jill frequently uses the greenway path for bike rides, which she has been doing regularly throughout the various lockdowns.
Jill brought along a mango she had at home and a recycling bag. Jill feels it important to recycle in order to reduce the effects of global warming in order to leave a better planet for her grandchildren, and brought the bag along to represent this in our portraits with her.
Folakemi is a mother of 3, she and her husband did not have access to public funds for 10 years, leading her husband to slip into depression due to stress. They have relied on Bonny Downs for the food bank, clothes and advice.
Through BDCA Folakemi was introduced to a lawyer who assisted her and her husband with their visa applications. Recently she was granted access to public funds and is now able to use this to provide for the family. She hopes more people can become aware of the support Bonny Downs provides and how it can help them as it was "a life saver" for her.
As she waters and nurtures it, this small plant represents Folakemi’s hopes for the future.
Omar was born and raised in Newham, leaving him with incredibly strong roots and connections with the community. Having worked as an Actor, Poet and Community leader for many years, Omar was selected to lead our poetry workshop. Through the workshop, Omar and his partner Michael helped the participants in formalising and bringing to life their poems.
"We all know how difficult last year was for Newham residents, so getting to do these workshops was an absolute dream. The simple but powerful act of sharing community with my Newham neighbours, who had also struggled in 2020, was very healing. We didn't just speak about the last year, I got to hear decades-old survival tactics from the elders in the group and hopes for the future from the youngers too. I'm so grateful to all the poets involved for sharing their creativity, vulnerability and joy".
Yvonne took park in the Voice for Change poetry workshop, which was the first time she had ever performed her poetry. Yvonne originally found out about Bonny Downs through her church, which, through her bible serves as a reminder of the strength her faith has given her throughout the pandemic. The tips she learnt in the workshop from Michael and Omar’s were incredibly helpful to Yvonne and gave her lots of confidence which she then took in to a job interview
A card from her nieces and nephews represents the relationship with her nieces and nephews and the ways in which they have maintained their connection.
Anne Marie has been using the services at Bonny Downs for many years, enjoying line dancing groups, coffee mornings and computer lessons. She has felt a big loss without being able to attend her usual classes and vocations. Her and her husband both contracted Covid and had to Isolate.
Anne Marie hasn't seen her family much at all although she has befriended another woman who she calls every Wednesday. Anne Marie brought a mask to our shoot to represent hope as it would be the end of the pandemic in
For Anne Marie, the mask represents hope, as lockdown conditions are eased she is grateful to see the end of the pandemic.
Paul is a primary school teacher from East Ham. Throughout the pandemic he has seen the effects on his students first hand, from end of year trips being cancelled to the children not being able to give a proper farewell to their primary schools before moving on to secondary school. Now that schools are open again, Paul is excited to get back in the classroom with his students and getting back to normality as a teacher.
After taking part in our poetry workshop, Paul wrote and performed two poems, "Keep on keeping on" & "Nothing" which can both be found on the poem page.