I attended a very interesting community engagement session at the Wynn Garrett centre yesterday, to which I was invited by Tower Hamlets Homes. It was a follow up session to the previous open meeting at the Queen Mary University some time ago.
We sat in a packed meeting room and discussed our hearts out to say what we think our role should be within Tower Hamlets Homes and ultimately Tower Hamlets Council. The matter of community grants came to the table and that’s when things got heated.
I mentioned that our Glasshouse was starved of funds for an extended period of time because applying for the money got too complicated. It was unanimously agreed that this is the case. People thought that one has to be a lawyer to fill in forms and that individuals doing so get too many obligations they cannot or do not want to fulfil.
I previously argued that community facilities should be run by professionals for that reason but if they continue to be run by volunteers that it has to be made user-friendly. People demanded simple forms, easy applications for community grants.
I said that our Glasshouse had been starved of funds for over a year, that I made a petition to the council. We were told that there are now community engagement officers that help. Considering that Jackie Miller is already one of the busiest people on the planet, constantly doing voluntary work for the benefit of our community and Emma in a full-time job and also very busy with church activities, one simply cannot expect that those two ladies do even more.
From the outside the Glasshouse currently looks like one of the worst maintained community centre in the borough and I already wrote to the housing officer about that. I said it invites anti-social behaviour that the outside of the facility looks so bad. But that is not the fault of the volunteers running it, it is the fault of the owner of the building for allowing it to look that way. Normally Tower Hamlets council and Tower Hamlet Homes maintain public and communal buildings well, but why can’t they do it with the Glasshouse. At a recent TRA meeting I was informed that local residents allow their dogs to foul in front of the Glasshouse and that makes it a chore for mothers to take their children to the Mothers and Toddlers group. Yet when I see the state of the black entry doors, I wonder whether people think the place is abandoned.
From the inside the lower part of the Glasshouse is very cosy and warm but from the outside it’s a mess. I would have thought that the estate inspections prompt the landlord to carry out the necessary repairs. In fact I had to put in extra effort to get a leaking pipe fixed previously. I do not run the Glasshouse but feel that from the aspect of Communal Anti-social behaviour I want to involve myself into the maintenance of the facility, as far as Tower Hamlets Homes is concerned to ensure basic functionality of it. I shall continue to make a noise about this.
I shall also already ask for assistance with next year’s grants.