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Barking and Dagenham's £6.4m funding bonanza set to benefit 25,000 people

PUBLISHED: 16:01 30 August 2017 | UPDATED: 16:23 30 August 2017

Barking and Dagenham is set to benefit from a pioneering new community project. PICTURE: Participatory City

Barking and Dagenham is set to benefit from a pioneering new community project. PICTURE: Participatory City

Participatory City

The largest "participatory project" of its kind ever to have taken place in the UK is set to benefit 25,000 in Barking and Dagenham.

A £6.4 million, 5-year transformative programme aims to revolutionise community spaces in the borough and create 100 new businesses.

“Neighbourhoods made by everyone, for everyone” is the mission statement of the scheme, which will support initiatives including free workspaces for new businesses and free shop units for people to sell products from.

Community projects will also receive funding - kitchens for “bulk cooking” are to be built where residents can band together to prepare huge meals to take home and share with their families. Urban farms will also receive backing.

Residents will also be able to make their own suggestions as to how the substantial sum of money should be spent.

This is the first venture by the Participatory City Foundation, who received £1.5 million funding from the council, £1 million from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, £1 million of National Lottery funding and £500,000 from the City Bridge Trust. The remainder of the funding will be found at a later date.

Tessy Britton, chief executive of Participatory City, said: “By combining all our ideas and resources, we know we can create optimism, well-being and prosperity.”

“This borough couldn’t be a more perfect place to bring this initiative - it has always been a place full of creativity and energy and this initiative will help to grow that even more.”

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas has welcomed the project’s announcement and says he is “truly excited” to learn how he can assist.

He says the project is dear to him because it will allow a “good society” to flourish in the area, built on community, hope, contribution, sustainability and neighbourliness.

Deputy leader of the council, Saima Ashraf, said: “A project on this scale has never been done before and I think that is a truly exciting prospect for the people of Barking and Dagenham.

“Residents told us they wanted a more integrated, cohesive community with a renewed sense of community spirit. This ground-breaking initiative will offer people the chance to shape where they live by participating in projects happening in and around their neighbourhood.”

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