“The health and wellbeing of our community matters to me and I love how the Centre supports me and others with this.”
Themes: Community development; volunteering; creative arts; exercise
Carol first got involved with the Centre when she was diagnosed as pre-diabetic by her GP. She was referred to a course on exercise and nutrition and some of the sessions took place here.
Carol, who lives in Stepney Green, didn’t know about the Centre. “I was amazed by how much was going on” she said. A friendly and sociable person, Carol quickly made friends and collected information on local activities happening and it all gathered pace from there.
At the Centre she met a volunteer, Alison, who is a local balloon artist and she told Carol about a local Monday Cycle Group. Carol has been a cyclist for many years and was keen to get involved so she joined the group where she made more friends and learnt about Communities Driving Change. This was a borough-wide health and wellbeing programme supporting people to make their neighbourhoods healthier, happier and better connected.
Carol was soon instrumental in developing the cycle group because she knew how important it was for the regular members; it helped them build fitness, connection with others and to benefit from the outdoors. Carol helped the cycle group to take part in a Community Voting Day where local people vote on projects to receive funding for their local area. The group was keen to focus on safety and to foster a sense of belonging. To do this they pitched and secured funding for 24 high-vis vests; yellow for the leaders and orange for the members and followers. The vests were branded Community Cycle group and one of the group members developed a logo for them to use.
Carol obtained a great sense of achievement from winning the funding and said in future she’d like to try and secure more financial support for first aid and CPR training and bike maintenance for the group.
Life has not been easy for Carol who brought up three children as a single parent (she now has six grandchildren!) She has experienced ill health which has prevented her from working in recent years, but nothing can stop her infectious enthusiasm and she has become a key part of her local community. Carol has volunteered at the Royal London Hospital for over 11 years in various roles. At the start of the pandemic she became a vaccination volunteer and acts as a volunteer on some of the Centre’s trips and outings.
And that’s not all. Carol sings with a women’s choir in Whitechapel and completed a photography course with our partner Pierre Bureau. At the Centre she has been building her skills on courses for T-shirt printing, ceramic arts and archery. She participated in SuperBloom and our Traces project that explores migration through textile crafts.
Carol continues to support Community Voting Days and Centre events, often encouraging others to get involved. Her warmth and kindness is a natural beacon. When she had her beloved bike stolen earlier this year, her support network came together and raised the funds to replace it, a testament to how important Carol is to so many people.