Chingford woman returns to estate to bring community together

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Returning youth worker vows to unite community Returning youth worker vows to unite community

Uniting the community and cutting crime is the aim of a project devised by a woman who has returned to the troubled estate she visited as she grew up.


Lauren Grist, 26, of Sewardstone Gardens, Chingford, moved back to Yardley Lane estate last year after spending four years as a youth worker in Bristol.


During the intervening years she was inspired to use the lessons she learned to make a difference to her childhood home.


Her project, LoveYardley, involves bringing children, teenagers, parents and pensioners together to enjoy a range of projects, including a choir and a rap group.


Miss Grist said: "The estate has its problems - drugs are a big issue and we have the effects of gang culture too.


"There was no sense of togetherness so I came back and decided why not try to improve things?


"This project could make a change from that. It’s in its early stages but if people get involved it could change so much, it could give families and young people a hub and things to do."


Miss Grist has already established a weekly community lunch and a youth club at Sewardstone Evangelical Church in Sewardstone Road.


And she now hopes to promote unity through creativity and shared experience.


She has big plans for a group of young people she first met when she was 15 years old and they were 10.


The talented group rap about the challenges they face on the estate and she is looking for funding to enable them to record their music.


Miss Grist said: "They rap about family breakdowns and how that’s affected them, as well as their aspirations for life.


"Rapping allows them to be honest about things they’d never talk to others about. They talk about the fact they want a wife and two kids and a nice house."


Miss Grist hopes the Footprints project will help inspire younger people to fulfil their potential.


She added: "It would mean everything to get it off the ground. It would be fantastic for these people to get what they deserve. They get forgotten and they shouldn’t."


Reflections, an evening of music and entertainment, will take place at 8pm on Saturday, February 23.


For information please visit www.loveyardley.co.uk. 

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