It was John Lennon who penned the lyrics “imagine all the people, sharing all the world”, and while the former Beatle wasn’t specifically talking about Barking and Dagenham, the borough is now home to an ambitious scheme that encourages families, friends, and neighbours to share ideas, spaces, and time in order to build a better future. Monica Needs explains all.
This weekend was the launch festival of Every One Every Day, in Barking and Dagenham. The £6.4m initiative is the largest participation project of its kind in the country and hopes to work with more than 25,000 residents in the next five years to create 250 neighbourhood-led projects, and over 100 new businesses, which will improve our communities, empower our residents and bring people together in a rapidly growing borough.
But what does all that mean? For a start, this isn’t another volunteering scheme – Barking and Dagenham already has plenty of those fantastic programmes going on – this is about giving our residents a greater say in where they live and turning the traditional model on its head – it isn’t about offering people a limited choice of what they can do, it’s about asking people what they want to do and making it easy for them to do it.
Imagine the possibilities if you have an idea that can improve where you live, a skill you want to share, or an idea for bringing people together and there is someone there to help you bring it to life.
Whether it’s starting a community cooking club, beginning a bicycle borrowing scheme or learning how to launch a community business, Every One Every Day can help. At the moment, we really don’t know what ideas our residents will come up with, but the scheme has a few well-researched projects to start them off – but the real magic is when we get to see what our residents will want to do and how they will shape the borough.
No one knows the borough better than our residents, and encouraging them to get involved and share ideas and initiatives to build the community and improve our borough can only be beneficial in the long-term.
And the scheme doesn’t just benefit the area.
There’s a plethora of research showing that communities coming together can have a range of benefits for people – not just on improving health by reducing stress, improving happiness and increasing confidence, but on learning new skills and saving money.
Most people probably associate our borough with our past, we were once famous for producing Ford cars, but just as we embraced new ideas in the manufacturing age, we are doing it again with ideas such as Every One Every Day, as part of our future.
We know it won’t be easy and we know there will be people that think it isn’t for Barking and Dagenham but just like the chorus to Lennon’s iconic song, “you may say that I’m a dreamer”, well we might be, but judging by the interest we have had from residents, we are certainly not the only ones.
The initiative, which is delivered by Participatory City Foundation, is currently collaboratively funded by Esmée Fairbairn, City Bridge Trust, The Big Lottery Fund, and Barking and Dagenham Council.
If you want to know more, please visit https://www.weareeveryone.org/
Monica Needs is Community Enterprise Manager at Barking and Dagenham Council