On September 28th we launched the report and video from our Community Research pilot with the Downham Dividend Society. Between March and June 2022 we worked with a group of Downham residents to identify local strengths and needs. The work was commissioned by Sevenfields Primary Care Network.
Downham is to the south of Lewisham. It has a diverse population, but community relations have been complicated over the years. There is awareness among local activists that Downham has received less investment than parts of the borough. Deprivation, measured by the Indices of Multiple Deprivation, is high in the area, as is the number of children living in poverty.
Tim Oshodi, a project partner and researcher, explains his involvement.
"Downham Dividend Society CLT Ltd was established to ensure that regeneration initiatives strengthen the social capital of Downham's existing communities. It is the successor body to Fusions Jameen which inspired two award winning community self-build projects. The Trusts assumes the existing Downham communities and their bonds which bind them are an asset of economic value. The time banking approach of community self-build where people in housing need partcipate in the creation of social housing is continued through our community wealth building approach to regeneration.
The health inequalities and intergenerational poverty that blights Downham will be overcome when the unique knowledge of those who live in Downham is integrated into regeneration strategies for the area. We demonstrate that local people are assets through local employment, training and business initiatives which strengthen the existing community bonds. We are building long term partnerships with organisations who share our commitment and values.
"Any initiative which doesn't engage ordinary people's participation in solution creation will fail, for it lacks the nourishment to endure" - adapted from Amilcar Cabral
The community research set out to train and support residents to carry out research, to understand what is supporting and undermining health and wellbeing in Downham. The lived experience of the residents who were trained as researchers made it easier to connect with communities and helped the team identify local issues that matter to people living in and around the area. Community researchers were involved in all the stages of the research. This helped researchers feel ownership over the research process, which helped their confidence and trust in their abilities as well as developing skills and wider social networks.