Town Hall cash up for grabs from ‘One Tower Hamlets’ neighbourhood fund

Naseem Khan at the opening of The Hut

Naseem Khan at the opening of The Hut - Credit: Archant

Money is up for grabs from the Town Hall for any worthy neighbourhood project in London’s East End.

Groups have just days to apply for grants up to £7,000 from the local authority’s ‘One Tower Hamlets’ fund for schemes that bring people from different backgrounds together.

Successful bids for cash last year included the Gascoigne Neighbourhood Group to transform a dilapidated building known as ‘The Hut’ which had been empty for 15 years into a thriving little community centre.

Families on Bethnal Green’s Gascoigne Estate had complained about being in a forgotten corner of the East End in what they called the “Bermuda Triangle of Shoreditch”.

But the Town Hall cash changed all that. The tenants, led by grandmother Naseem Khan, took over The Hut, redecorated and opened it for a festive barbecue in time for last year’s Royal Jubilee.

“We are Cinderellas,” she said at the opening. “The Hut was left abandoned for 15 years, so we decided to make it feel more human.”

They got a tenancy agreement with Tower Hamlets council and had an army of volunteers to help spruce it up and put the Gascoigne Estate back on the map.

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Steering group treasurer James Green explained: “There’s a thriving Shoreditch High Street on one side of the estate, Columbia flower market on the other that gets a lot of attention and round the corner is Arnold Circus where there’s plenty of activity.

“But Gascoigne Place gets forgotten—like we’re in the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of Shoreditch!”

The tenants also used the Town Hall cash to turn wasteland on the estate into allotments, plant flower beds and create a children’s play area.

Other grants last year went to students in Poplar to become ‘youth ambassadors’ to organise events for their older neighbours and to the Shadwell People’s Forum which brought faith leaders together from St Paul’s Church and Darul Ummah Mosque to tackle anti-social activity on their streets.

Deadline for applications for grants from this year’s £55,000 neighbourhoods budget is 9am on December 4.