L&Q lockout Silwood Youth Club

Jacqueline Willis Silwood resident and Ola Walker local youth worker expressed their frustration and hurt after L&Q housing association, current managers of the Lewington Community Centre, cancelled the youth club at short notice. The day before L&Q had cancelled the Zumba class again at very short notice, which sparked a resident sit down.

L&Q have a history of last-minute cancellations of community events including the residents’ Christmas Party. Fortunately, they were given permission to throw the Christmas party, but not without causing distress and anxiety to the community event organisers and the caterers. As the Christmas party drew nearer, they were still in the dark about the availability of the centre.

The Lewington Community Centre, promised under the regeneration of the Silwood estate to serve and be managed by the Silwood neighbourhood has become simply an “asset” of L&Qs portfolio of properties- it is rented out most of the time to Morley College.

These community events were cancelled at extremely short notice, just a few hours before the events were meant to begin. This was particularly unfortunate on the day that they were supposed to hold a youth club event for minors, as it posed a child protection issue when the building closed and they had nowhere to go.

L&Q offer no real explanation for the cancellations. They cite staff shortages but there is no reason for the community not to be keyholders. If they had been keyholders none of the events would have needed to be cancelled.

L&Q seem determined not to allow members of the community-led Lewington Community Centre Management Community (LCCMM) to be keyholders. Indeed L&Q appear to resist any attempt by the community to organise and run their own centre as they were promised they would under the Section 106 agreement. Before the “regeneration” of the estate the community happily and efficiently ran their own centre.

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Silwood residents sit-down to demand a community centre.

After a series of community events have been cancelled at short notice, when L&Q suddenly announced the Lewington Centre on the Silwood Estate would closed at 5pm- not the scheduled 9pm, it was the final straw, after 20 years of being excluded from their own centre. 

Residents wanted to show that there were people who would be prepared to manage and close the building after 5pm. The women were resident community workers and representatives of residents and tenant groups.

Residents were not asked to leave by L&Q but soon after 5 the police were in the room.

This is not the whole story.

Since the building was open L&Q have resisted all attempts by the community to manage and use their own centre.

This sit down was not just about a zumba class being cancelled. It was the last straw in a 20 year struggle for the community to get the centre “regeneration” promised.

What Silwood residents had pre Regeneration: a mish-mash of community resources, youth clubs, a nursery, a creche, education and training facilities, clubs and groups, council supported and bottom up initiatives effectively run and organised by residents, paid or voluntary. Many were much loved by the community and the residents made the best of what little they had.

What they were promised, the justification for the entire regeneration scheme was a bigger, better, purpose built community centre and facilities.

What they have 20 years on is the “Lewington Centre.” A building L&Q run and refer to as an “asset” and a business. The centre is in fact let out to Morley College most of the week so it is not available for community use.There is nothing “purpose-built” about the Lewington Centre. With 25 flats above the main hall, occupied by key workers, some on night shifts, the building was never suitable for the kind of noisy social  and community events like birthday parties, weddings.  The acoustics have been a constant problem. Just a few teenagers playing table tennis made a deafening noise before expensive sound remediation.

L&Q insisted they had to build the flats above the centre to provide an income stream to make the centre sustainable. Its not clear why the flats needed to be physically located on top of the building given the huge amount of land L&Q were given in the regeneration deal. Without transparency and published accounts it is also not clear what this income, combined with the rental from Morley College and other private hires, is actually spent on. Do L&Q really need to charge the community to use their own hall for social and community events to “cover their overheads”?

The community want some very basic things so they can once again manage their own community resources:

Management of activities and social events at the community centre.

Registered Community key holders.

Recognition of the Community Centre Management Committee (CCMC)

Published accounts for Lewington Centre. (required under Section 106)

These are simple demands. It is curious L&Q are so resistant. Why?

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Or visit PlanA  for general posts on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.
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Silwood Community Centre Management Committee

Before the “regeneration” of the Silwood Estate by Lewisham and L&Q in 2000 the residents successfully ran their own community centre and youth facilities- either voluntarily or employed.

These facilities, the youth club, cyber centre, community hall, under 5s etc were demolished and residents were promised a bigger and better purpose built “Community Centre” to not just replace but improve on what they lost. What followed was a systematic disempowerment of the community. What they got was the L&Q run “Lewington Centre”, a totally unsuitable building that residents struggle to access. L&Q sublet the building to Morley College which is of no benefit to the community and means the building is rarely available for residents to use.

On the 16th of September 2019, the Silwood community held a meeting to form the Community Centre Management Committee (CCMC). This meeting symbolises local people of Silwood wanting to come together to improve the facilities of the community and surrounding areas.  

Silwood Community Centre run by L&Q

Historically, the residents successfully ran their own community centre and amenities. Sadly, under the regeneration of the estate, L&Q housing association took control of the new purpose-built community centre that was meant to not just replace but improve the facilities lost. Following the regeneration, L&Q then sub-let the centre to Morley College and the community has felt excluded ever since.

After years of frustration, the establishment of an independent CCMC means the whole community could have their voice heard. In the past L&Q have managed to make promises and not keep them to individuals without being made accountable but now with the strength of the committee, this will happen no more. A significant improvement for the community, as in the past, resident’s concerns about the management of the estate was falling on to deaf ears and there was no one to hold L&Q accountable to fulfil promises made.

Spectacle has been documenting the resident’s struggle since 1999 and continue to do so today. We believe that the injustice done to the residents is unacceptable. By setting up the Silwood video group to document and lobby for a meaningful regeneration, we are working with the community to help bring awareness to the mistreatment of Silwood residents. 

The group has participated in workshops organised by Spectacle and filmed the consultative meetings so they have a personal record.

Rita Edmond, Community Develop Practitioner, in her interview, exclaims,  “we stand together, and we fall together.” which is an attitude that currently illustrates the unity of the Silwood community and their hopes for the future. 

Another interviewee, Pembe Kumbi, Local entrepreneur, said the community has lots of hidden young talent that will be expressed through the use of the community centre. 

There is so much opportunity for Lewington Community Centre to become a hub for people to gather for youth groups and an assortment of classes. Joyce Jacca mentions all sorts of potential uses for the centre if it is allowed to be run by the locals. 

This represents a whole new chapter in the Silwood story that goes to the heart of community empowerment and wellbeing.   

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA  for general posts on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.
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Spectacle’s new Participatory Video Workshops

Spectacle has a long history of establishing and supporting participatory community media workshops and a large number of our productions have adopted participatory video (PV) techniques and ethos, resulting in an excellent track record of high quality, award-winning TV documentaries, short films and powerful campaigning videos. We are happy to inform everyone interested in applying a participatory media approach into their community based projects, that it is now possible to share Spectacle’s experience taking part in our Participatory Video Workshop (PVW).
Spectacle has made extensive use of Participatory Video as a successful strategy to involve communities in production processes, allowing people to produce knowledge about themselves rather than being represented – and often misrepresented – by outsiders.

Recently one of the films that Spectacle produced through participatory techniques has been re-screened on the Pepys Estate: “Poverty and the Media: the tower”. The film shows the way in which local residents have felt misrepresented by the BBC ’s program The Tower: A Tale of Two Cities. The BBC’s program intended to document the transformation of the Lewisham council estate into a chic development and the alleged clash between rich newcomers and poor long term residents. Spectacle, was commissioned by the Rowntree Foundation to develop a participatory video project in the Pepys and other estates in the area: “Poverty and participation in the Media“. At the time the BBC project begun, Spectacle was already organizing video workshops that focused specifically on the way mainstream media (mis)represent poverty. In our film Pepys residents have filmed each other while commenting on the effects the BBC’s program had on their lives. Spectacle’s “Poverty and the media: the Tower” illustrates the advantages of a participatory approach, highlighting the local dynamics in a way that is factually accurate and respectful of people’s feelings, intentions and views on the world they experience.

Following the very positive feedbacks from residents and in order to meet the growing demand from community based researchers to be trained to lead participatory projects, we are happy to inform you that we are now offering a Participatory Video Workshop (PVW). Our PVW is addressed to social workers, NGOs’ and charity organization’s staff that are engaged in community development and empowerment, artists and, in general, anyone who wants to integrate participatory methods in their own projects. Based on our long experience, the PVW will provide you with practical and transferrable knowledge on video techniques, and train you on how to engage your stakeholders in participatory productions.

The PVW is designed as 3 day immersive experience that will allow you to use participatory methods in documentation, evaluation and research. If you and your staff are particularly interested in specific topics, we are happy to bring our workshop to you and tailor it to your specific needs.

Please, find here our workshop description or get in touch for further information.

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Silwood Video Group – Bank Holiday Workshop

Spectacle’s latest inter-generational film workshop took place at the Silverlock Center on bank holiday Monday and saw children and adults from the surrounding communities come together to learn about and discuss the history and social issues of the local area. Through workshops they were enabled to film one another in an interview style regarding their feelings concerning the estate and how it has changed within their life-times.

Children interviewing a parent at the workshop

Thanks to all who attended for their interest, support and contribution to what was an insightful and rewarding day.

You can support our work by ordering Silwood related books, maps, dvds and prints from Spectacle’s Shop.

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

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Silwood Video Group Update

Silwood Digital Training 28-02-09

On Monday we had a successful afternoon filming location shots around the Silwood estate including Regeneration Road and Oldfield Grove. We also filmed shots of the incinerator and the work site near by.

We are coming to the end of this series of inter-generational workshops, so why not get involved and make the most of the last workshops! We will be holding a public screening shortly to show what has been filmed during this series.

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

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Silwood Video Group: Workshop Update

Class X Silwood 05-09-05

The Silwood Video Group continued this week as workshops were held on Tuesday in the Silverlock Centre and around the estate. We were able to conduct our usual sound and video workshops, taking new location shots around Silwood and engaging with residents curious about our work. This was followed by a screening in the Silverlock centre from 6 to 8, and preparations were discussed for a joint celebration of the culmination of the Silwood project and Spectacle’s eleventh anniversary of filming on the estate. Watch this space!

This week’s workshops will take place as per usual on Tuesday 22nd March, with location filming around the estate from 4.00 to 6.00 and screenings from 6.30 to 8.00 PM at the Silverlock Centre. Newcomers are welcome, and we look forward to seeing you there

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SVG: Workshop Update

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The Silwood Video Group workshops continued this week, with two days on the estate. On Monday, due to good weather, we were able to move around on the estate doing location shots and photography, as well as engaging curious residents and talking to them about our activities. Later in the afternoon, we organised an interview shoot with a long-term resident. We also held our weekly screening and workshops at the Silverlock Centre on Tuesday from 6pm-8pm. We discussed old maps of the Silwood and Rotherhithe area brought along by one of the residents, which were photographed for documentation, and held camera and sound operating practice workshops.

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

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SVG: Progress Update

Silwood Video Group 18-02-09

The weekly Silwood Video Group sessions have been continuing down on the estate and at the Silverlock Centre. We have had some very successful shoots and interviews with local residents, who have helped to document life on the estate by explaining their memories of their time there, how the community has changed, and what advice they would give to younger/ newer residents. The project has so far been well-received by those living on and around the estate, and there is a keen interest being shown in discovering how the camera works, operating sound equipment, interviewing others and listening to each others histories.

As ever, the group would like to encourage new members to join – all are welcome to take part!

Tuesdays, 6.30pm – 8pm

Click Silwood Video Group for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

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An Urban media Practice: documentation, agitation, participation

Mark Saunders lecturing on the Urban Practices course at UCL:

An Urban media Practice: documentation, agitation, participation

8th February 3pm in Room 114, 26 Bedford Way, Department of Geography, UCL

Drawing on 30 years experience of independent and community based media practice in London, Brussels and Rostock Mark Saunders will describe the political and technological development of Spectacle’s practice and use of media in urban struggles for social justice in the built environment.

This will include, Despite TV, an innovative video co-operative in East London (1981-94), Jako Co-operative and the making of The Truth Lies in Rostock (90-98) establishing resident video groups in gentrifying Brussels (2000-2009) and long term video workshops on “regenerated” estates Silwood in Rotherhithe (10 years) and Marsh Farm Luton (15 years) and recent work on the London Olympics and Battersea Power Station.

Key Readings:

Olympics

Olympic project pages

Olympic blog

Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station project

Battersea Power Station blog

Suggested further readings:

Surviving Participation Fatigue< Erased Social Geography

Video in the City: Possibilities for Transformation in the Urban Space

Advocacy, Participation and Non Governmental Organisations in planning : A report and video on Spectacle’s APaNGO work

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