Hackney

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What is your name and how long have you lived in the community?
My name is Evie and I’ve lived in the community for 22 years - my whole life!
What is your involvement in the community?
I work in the NHS and I am part of three generations who have all lived in this area. My nan, my mum and I - my mum grew up on the same road as me!
How do you think the area/community has changed? Is it for the better or worse?
I think the community has changed for the better. When I was growing up there was a lot of gangs and violence. Now there are a lot of farmers markets and bars that have brought in a completely new and friendlier crowd.
How do you think regeneration should benefit those living in the community?
I think it should benefit the community by everyone being able to get involved in the new things and places being introduced to the community. People should feel more at peace with letting their children out without worrying about their safety. I can see that it is quite difficult for some people as everything is a lot more expensive than it used to be. Although we now live in a safer and happier environment, it is just not affordable for the majority of the people that have been brought up in the community, which is the unfortunate side. It is a bit of a win/lose situation.

What is your name and how long have you lived in the community?
Sarah. I’ve lived here all my life! I was born here.
What is your involvement in the community?
I run an Afro-Caribbean hairdresser/barbershop on the estate.
How do you think the area/community has changed? Is it for the better or worse?
There are a few different hair salons that have opened up that are a lot more expensive and catering for the people that have moved in now. Our rent has increased, the change is obvious, and for us it’s not been for the better.
How do you think regeneration should benefit those living in the community?
There should be some fairness. Local businesses shouldn’t have to suffer because the area’s 'improved'.

What is your name and how long have you lived in the community?
My name is Mahi and I have lived in the area my whole life - 22 years!
What is your involvement in the community?
When I’m not at University studying Computer Science or drowning in coursework, you will find me skating at London Fields and Victoria Park. All of which had been planned to be demolished, but after campaigning and skating, was saved from redevelopment. I mean, those areas are not technically skate parks as they were not designed for skateboarding, but skaters have used them for decades.
How do you think the area/community has changed? Is it for the better or worse?
The area I live in is unrecognisable from the one my friends and I grew up in. Gentrification and rapid development due to the Olympics, council houses being sold to overseas investors and ridiculous rent prices have pushed out many families who have lived here for generations. However, I can see the benefits since crime rates have fallen.
There were times when you couldn’t walk through a certain area because you were from a different postcode and as a boy, who always wore skinny jeans, I used to get abuse hurled at me daily just because of how I dressed and I would hear about homophobic attacks almost every week. People seem to have become more accepting and although there are occasional cases of crime, all areas of London have issues. I’m sure if you went to Chelsea and other wealthy areas, you would find just as many drug addicts and criminals, but the mainstream media doesn’t like to attack the middle and upper class.
How do you think regeneration should benefit those living in the community?
I think regeneration should benefit the people who live here and have lived in the area their entire lives; they deserve improvements to their properties and safe, clean parks for their children to play in. I also think the council in the local area need to stop more betting shops being opened as they targeting areas with high numbers of gambling addicts.

What is your name and how long have you lived in the community?
I’m Paula. I’ve always lived in Hackney and I have been working at St Mary’s Secret Garden for 15 years, but the Garden has been around for 30 years. It was originally a disused green space.
What is your involvement in the community?
I run the Garden. We mainly work with those with disabilities, autism and long-term health issues. However, we also get a lot of elderly people and school groups such as Randal Cramer and little Happiness Nursery (the local primary school and nursery). We provide work placements and encourage those who have interests in gardening to plant and take part in beekeeping and whatever they produce they sell through a local business enterprise; such as honey, jam, art, flowers and plants.
We work with around 25 volunteers, who are locals in the community. As a registered charity our management are all volunteers. We deliver wellbeing services to individuals and try not to be ‘post-codey’ by welcoming everyone, even those from out of the borough such as Enfield, Islington and Camden. We have created zones or ‘rooms’ of the Garden, such as the Urban Centre and Wish You Well zone, which was designed years ago by people with mental health issues. We try to be as biodiverse as possible.
How do you think the area/community has changed? Is it for the better or worse?
Our plot of land is getting more expensive as the days go by, not even months, but days and we are continuously fighting to keep hold of the green space for the benefit of the local community. Of course it is still owned by Hackney council so we have to negotiate with leases. As we are a charity, we deliver services and we get funding for that.
How do you think regeneration should benefit those living in the community?
For us we feel the opportunity it is supposed to bring should really be for those in the community, especially the youth. It is so hard for young people, even with qualifications to find a job, let a lone those without any so we try to instill confidence and self-esteem, which is so important for young people. Last year we worked on ‘partnership working’ with young people in NEETS (Not in Education, Employment of Training). We love partner work and are always connecting with small organisations locally such as the one over Fellow Court which has its beehive training here for young people in Hackney and also provides business skills - even if we don’t deliver, we find someone else who does!

What is your name and how long have you lived in the community?
Paloma. I’ve lived here for 21 years.
What is your involvement in the community?
I try my best to be pro-active in the community, making sure the local people don’t lose their voice in and amongst the gentrification that’s happening. I feel it’s important that local businesses fight to stay where they are, that local people don’t loose their businesses because they’re all being bought out and changed into trendy coffee shops, boutiques and wine bars.
How do you think the area/community has changed? Is it for the better or worse?
The most obvious and drastic change has been the housing. This is an area that used to be a community. We grew up on the estates and many of those have been torn down and changed into private flats. This destroys communities, as those of us who were council, have been moved out, and those with money have moved in. I feel like it’s happened so fast in front of my eyes and it’s, in my opinion, for the worse. We’ve lost something in all these changes.
How do you think regeneration should benefit those living in the community?
It should be for the benefit of those living in this community, not because it increases the value of the properties in the area or increases the appeal of people moving in. The council should have cleaned up the buildings, the parks, the streets, etc. for those of us who come from here, but money talks, and the regeneration has happened to suit those moving in, with the money.

What is your name and how long have you lived in the community?
Santarna. I have lived in east London all my life. Bethnal Green for 12 years and Hackney for 10 years.
What is your involvement in the community?
Since I was 12 I have had the opportunity to work within different communities, such as singing in a jazz band at my school, where I would perform and co-lead workshops within the community. I even flew over to Madrid twice (aged 12 and 16) to teach music at schools in Spanish communities.
I also stated a samba drumming class and led many workshops at the Barbican, where all my volunteers were from schools in Hackney and Tower Hamlets. All of this has lead me to the opportunity to go to New York and teach deaf children - a beautiful experience, which has stemmed from working in my own community.
How do you think the area/community has changed? Is it for the better or worse?
The people have grown and developed and I think the perception of the area has changed. My area is multicultural and that’s beautiful.
How do you think regeneration should benefit those living in the community?
I am not sure if the older generation will benefit from it, as they have had their small businesses shut down due to the increase in rent; making way for Starbucks or Costa. However, as an artist, the money invested has made the area feel safer, and I do enjoy the Open Mic sessions, which are local and accessible, but I suppose you could argue 'accessible for whom?'.

What is your name and how long have you lived in the community?
Haz. All my life.
What is your involvement in the community?
Living here.
How do you think the area/community has changed? Is it for the better or worse?
Worse. It has been taken over and excluded the real community. Wait ‘til the week of Christmas and walk down Shoreditch High Street and you will see how quiet it is, all these posers with money will have gone back home.
How do you think regeneration should benefit those living in the community?
The problem is this idea that the community has suddenly become the new ‘it’ place, where everyone is trendy and affluent means that those who are impoverished go ignored. Before building a playground for the rich, let's focus on the needs of the real community.

What is your name and how long have you lived in the community?
Errol McKellar. I’ve been in the community for 26 years
What is your involvement in the community?
I run Cremer Garage, which is a hub of social interaction and awareness in the area. I have launched a TFL campaign after I survived prostate cancer, which has helped to save 36 men who visited this garage. They were diagnosed at their GPs after being given money off car repairs and servicing. As an ambassador for a prostate cancer campaign, I am organising an extravagant celebrity charity football match, pitching the likes of Bradley Walsh, Thierry Henry, Russel Brand and Jamie Redknapp against the Leyton Orient legends.
How do you think the area/community has changed? Is it for the better or worse?
I feel that the closeness of the community is changing. People don’t seem to know their neighbours or say hi to those walking past. I have been offered 1.2 million for my garage. I mean, look at its location, its right next to the station (Hoxton). I refuse to sell, for what, for them to turn it into flats? It’s all ways of slowly getting rid of the existing community to make way for those with money.
How do you think regeneration should benefit those living in the community?
Stop encouraging deprivation. For the young people who grew up in this area, they will try and make it seem like you can’t achieve your goals, as though only those with money can. This is your community. You have to fight and make it so the regeneration benefits you! Challenge them and make yourself heard. This is a great community and it should be great for everyone - nice homes, opportunities and good jobs.

What is your name and how long have you lived in the community?
Michaela. I’ve been here for 24 years.
What is your involvement in the community?
I am an artist. My paintings are in the community centre and my friend and I used to have a stall in ‘Spitalfields Market’… when it was affordable.
How do you think the area/community has changed? Is it for the better or worse?
There are things that you can’t ignore which have been positive changes; it’s cleaner, safer and there are more opportunities. However, has it been done for the fragmentation of the local community?
How do you think regeneration should benefit those living in the community?
It should be more inclusive. Allow some of the small, independent businesses to have the same opportunities as the larger and affluent ones do.

What is your name and how long have you lived in the community?
Lewis. I have lived here for 28 years.
What is your involvement in the community?
I’m part of the community. I try to be the best neighbour, help and be involved in bettering the area.
How do you think the area/community has changed? Is it for the better or worse?
For the better and for the worse. It has changed dramatically since my dad moved here 35 years ago, when the National Front used to be elected here and it was a predominantly white area - very racist to a very tolerant, diverse community. Today is has changed a lot in a very different way, unfortunately the changes don’t provide a structure of help and benefits; better schools, better housing, better space for children to play and in that sense I don’t think the council has done anything.
How do you think regeneration should benefit those living in the community?
Regeneration can be a very good thing, but it has to meet to the needs of the community in general. The regeneration at this time in Hackney is for the upper, white, middle class that moves in. For instance, in Hoxton there is a lovely theatre and centre, which although is there for all to use, is bloody expensive. Same with Hackney Empire, for a family of four it's around £160, so how does that cater for those on a minimum wage? The regeneration can be something fantastic; we need better schools and better housing, but the regeneration is being tailored to benefit those who can afford it and have never been in a crisis - and yet you still have those in the area who live in a crisis!

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