Healthy eating, open spaces, a connected community & opportunities to be active at the heart of feedback.
We are delighted to have completed, alongside London Borough of Barking & Dagenham and Barking Riverside Limited, a four month community engagement project with the residents of Barking Riverside and surrounding area to assist with the development of Barking Riverside as a Healthy New Town (HNT), where the vision is a place which is healthy for all who live and work in and around the area.
Barking Riverside was selected as a Healthy New Town as part of a flagship NHS England programme to dramatically improve population health, and integrate health and care services as new places are built and take shape. For this to work, it is imperative for the community to shape what that means to them.
The aims of our community engagement work were to increase community awareness of the HNT initiative at Barking Riverside, engage a diverse range of residents and community stakeholders in shaping the vision for a healthy Barking Riverside, gather ideas and commitments for activities to help deliver this vision in partnership with others and capture these conversations in a range of media and formats to create a record and showcase of community input.
Over 700 people participated in activities including Pop Ups around Barking Riverside, Tag-on workshops and the ‘Feel Good Friday’ event which was co-run with local leaders and businesses including Triangoals, Khushnood Ahmed from the Riverside Wellness Group, Mr Nice, Ace Events, The Rivergate Church and Local Scouts. 450 pieces of individual feedback were collected.
The top three priorities that were identified for a healthy Barking Riverside were:
- More events and activities for all ages, and a space for these to happen - highlighting the local will for a more connected community.
- Better promotion and communication. Finding an innovative way for local activities and events to be promoted and communicated to people in one central place or through one clear channel.
- More local participation, leadership and skill building. Introducing an improved mechanism for local people to participate in activities and be involved in running and leading on initiatives in the area.
Additional themes and ideas for Barking Riverside Healthy New Town included better connection with the rest of the borough, classes for specific social groups and development of areas to enable children to play inside and out.
Anne Bristow, Deputy Chief Executive, Barking & Dagenham Council, commented
We are delighted to have had such engagement from the community. This suggests a passion to help build a community with healthy at its heart. Our next steps are to share the findings from this engagement exercise and keep the dialogue going and to help put in place sustainable community communications outlets that the residents can take ownership of and drive. This supports the ideas they shared about the need for skills development and for everyone to know more what is happening locally.
John Craig, Chief Executive, Care City commented
Many additional initiatives are planned including 'citizen science'research projects that will focus on access and sustainable transport and involve the community further in helping design routes and walkways in Barking Riverside. This work will be carried out in tandem with the active travel programme already being led by Sustrans and funded by TfL.
Matt Carpen, Director of Barking Riverside Limited, said:
We are planning to create a number of parks, open recreational spaces, cycle paths and more across the development so that people can be active. We are excited that a community garden at Barking Riverside is already in development.
We would like to thank the residents of the Barking Riverside community for sharing so openly and honestly their thoughts for a Healthy New Town. A big thank you also to the local businesses and individuals who took part and helped organise the events.