How Enfield Neighbourhood Fund is helping the community

Fran Di Fazio speaks to some of the beneficiaries of the council’s support fund for community groups

Enfield Methodist Circuit has been collaborating with Bullsmoor residents over the creation of a new community centre (credit IF_DO Architects)
Enfield Methodist Circuit has been collaborating with Bullsmoor residents over the creation of a new community centre (credit IF_DO Architects)

The second round of Enfield Council’s Enfield Neighbourhood Fund is currently open to applications, with £400,000 set to be allocated to the winning bidders. Eight community projects were supported with a share of £350,000 in the first round of the fund and the Dispatch has spoken to two of these beneficiaries about the impact this money has made.

One first-round winner was Enfield Methodist Circuit, which is directing the money towards the opening of a new community hub at Elsinge Estate in Bullsmoor called ‘The Space’. The project is the brainchild of Baroness Kathleen Richardson, who thought of converting the existing St John’s Church into a community centre.

Bullsmoor is a deprived area and Graham Russell, chair of trustees for The Space project, said research had revealed the need for new community facilities. “There are hardly any shops, one school, and I think one bus a day goes through,” said Graham. “We thought the area would benefit from having an injection of resources and a new focus for that community.”

The Space will be intergenerational, interfaith, and will host a variety of activities. These will include English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) courses, a pre-school nursery and a GP practice.

Deacon Jacqueline Esama-John, the leading Methodist minister for the project, hopes The Space will help develop community cohesion. “Recently, we met some parents at [Honilands] school, and their inspiration and enthusiasm to come on board and be part of it has been really encouraging,” she said. “We want to be at the heart of the community and see people flourish.”

Although the centre is a Methodist Circuit project, community ownership is a priority. Graham said: “We don’t want it to be a top-down initiative. It’s important that it is actually the people who live on Elsinge Estate who make the decisions about how it’s run and what happens there.”

Designs by IF_DO Architects for 'The Space' in Bullsmoor
Designs by IF_DO Architects for ‘The Space’ in Bullsmoor

Other funding has also supported the project, which for now has covered construction of the building’s external structure. Enfield Methodist Circuit hopes it will be completed next year. “At the moment we’re working from a shed by the construction site, where we can’t do much,” Deacon Esama-John said. “That’s why we’re hoping to get the money to complete the building, we can do a lot more once it’s up and running.”

Another beneficiary in the first round of Enfield Neighbourhood Fund was the Skills and Training Network (STN), an accredited educational provider that offers free services to residents across Enfield. It directed the grant towards a work placement programme, providing basic skills and vocational training to people looking to getting into employment.

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The programme includes ESOL classes and sessions on literacy and digital skills. Sue Halawa, who founded the organisation in 2011, explained: “This is an upskilling programme for people to improve basic skills and their English. Once they have the language skills, we can offer them a vocational programme to help them getting into work.”

Most of the centre users want to work in the care sector. Through the STN programme they can achieve the required Level 2 qualification and obtain a professional reference from the organisation.

Khrystyna, from Ukraine, comes all the way from Brent Cross to attend the programme. “I’d like to work as pharmacist or nurse, because I’ve studied at college and university in Ukraine,” she said. Through the programme she’s also met other Ukrainian girls and made new friends.

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Tanika McClain, who assists Sue in running the programme, said: “I think it’s really beneficial. A lot of people come to learn English and develop other skills, and they also go into better housing situations due to our help and advice.

“Because our lessons are ongoing, once they get employed they can still continue learning and developing their skills with us.”

Sue is satisfied with the programme’s result. Since the programme took off in November 2021, a good number of attendees have moved towards employment. Overall, STN has catered to more than 80 people in two years.

In particular, the STN is looking for more funds to set up a youth programme, which will require hiring mentors. Sue said Enfield Neighbourhood Fund “strengthened the organisation’s employability department” and added: We hope to continue for three or four years, because it’s really achieving good results. It’s attracting a lot of people from the community to come and get a free education, which is hard from them to get from outside.”

Enfield Neighbourhood Fund allocates money generated via the Community Infrastructure Levy which is charged to developers as part of the planning permission granted for large schemes. It is specifically geared towards achieving the 27 recommendations from the Enfield Poverty and Inequality Commission report published in 2020.

The second round of applications for Enfield Neighbourhood Fund closes on Friday, 6th January 2023. Local organisations can apply through the Enfield Council’s website:
Visit enfield.gov.uk/services/your-council/community-development#enfield-neighbourhood-fund

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