I have a background in town planning and social policy. I believe strongly that much of the money which has gone into deprived and disadvantaged communities has been mis-spent and mis-allocated. Much of the urban regeneration of the last 10 - 15 years has failed to fundamentally change what it is like to grow up in a poor area. In the future, regeneration has to come about at ground level. The best way to change an area is to allow the people living and working there, to come together and affect change themselves.
For the last two years, I have worked on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, north east London. I was working for a small charity, supporting the environmental regeneration of this area. The estate borders the Lordship Recreation Ground, one of the largest parks in north London. The park had won a large grant from the Heritage Lottery which was then matched by Haringey Council. This covered many large and small improvements across the park and the money came about because of strong community-led involvement in the park through a group called the Friends of Lordship Rec. I had the job of Volunteer and Trainee Co-ordinator and it was my responsibility to engage with the local community and open up volunteering opportunities in the regeneration project.
Since leaving that job, I have been volunteering for a number of community groups around this part of London. I am very interested in methods of regeneration and how nature and wildlife can be brought back into cities through gardening and horticultural approaches to urban landscapes.