Our history

The Bromley by Bow Centre marks its beginning with the arrival of Andrew and Susan Mawson in 1984. Andrew came as the Minister of the Church at a point when it was at a very low ebb with just a handful of members and an expectation that it would soon close or merge with another congregation…

Two people looking at a piece of stained glass window artwork

1980’s: Pioneering days

Andrew found that a group of elderly members suggested the Church open it’s buildings for the community to use. The Church didn’t close, instead it gave birth to a broad range of dynamic projects including a children’s nursery, dance school, community cafe and a series of art studios and workshops.

There were a number of key pioneers in this initial phase including Chilean sculptor Santiago Bell, local artists Frank and Margy Creber, Sheenagh McKinlay, Paula Haughney, cafe entrepreneur Sue Fox and childcare pioneers Yvonne Begley and Steve Goode.

People smiling and drinking cups of tea

1990’s: The innovators

From the early 1990’s the Bromley by Bow Centre began to build a reputation for its model of community regeneration. This was based on the ideals of entrepreneurship, creativity, excellence and also the belief in the capacity of all human beings.

Key figures in this period were Allison Trimble and Zenith Rahman. The team grew and new projects arrived, particularly in the areas of family support, social welfare, the arts, social care and learning. Team members included Helal Uddin, Sister Helen Downe, Lilu Ahmed and Juanita Azubuike, as well as many of the original artists and staff.

Andrew Mawson talks to Mrs Blair at the reception of the Bromley by Bow Health Centre

1997: The big step change

The Healthy Living Centre, opened in 1997, was the first of its kind in the UK and allowed the Centre to provide universal services for the community. It also marked the point when the Centre took over Bob’s Park, a space of great value.

Another key moment in this period was the arrival of Helen Matthews as the Minister of the Church and Paul Brickell as Chief Executive. It was under Paul’s leadership that the Centre went on to develop the new cafe, workshops and offices, as well as the Tudor Lodge and Marner Centre in partnership with the newly created Poplar HARCA.

Flags of different nationalities outside the Bromley by Bow Centre

Modern times

Rob Trimble took over as Chief Executive in 2002 overseeing expanding staff numbers and while developing a broad range of new partnerships. The Centre is now an exemplar model for a “communities in business” approach, using enterprise as a tool for economic development in deprived communities. There have also been fresh initiatives in healthcare and expansion of the general practice, reflected in Julia Davis’ appointment as Assistant Chief Executive.

Under the Chairship of Michael Goold the Centre has laid firm foundations for future growth and Dan Hopewell and Jane Mackelworth have been key figures in the growth and diversification of services and income generation. In 2010 Zenith Rahman was appointed as Vice-President, working alongside our Founder and President, Andrew Mawson.

A black lady smiling at the camera in the Bromley by Bow Centre garden

Who we've helped

Althea, Macmillan Social Prescribing service user

For me personally, I became more positive, more focused, more confident. I am me.

Read Althea's story
A white man sitting on a bench with his dog in the Bromley by Bow Centre garden

Who we've helped

Mick, Weight Management programme participant

I was 111.3 kg when I started the programme and in 14 weeks I was 94.9kg. I feel great. I can walk up the stairs and talk to people more confidently.

Read Mick's story
A lady in a headscarf sitting in the Bromley by Bow garden reading an ESOL booklet

Who we've helped

Lala, ESOL learner

Before when I go to my doctor, my hospital I had no English. Now I can talk by myself.

Read Lala's story
A smiling man in a blue cap and a red hoodie looks at the camera

Who we've helped

Alex, Macmillan Social Prescribing service user

Before I saw the Macmillan Social Prescribing service I felt lost, I didn’t know what to do, who to turn to. It gave me direction.

Read Alex's story