Empowering residents to champion change in Regent’s Park

Empowering residents to champion change in Regent’s Park

Empowering residents to champion change in Regent’s Park 1920 1280 Karishma Puri

Fitzrovia Youth in Action is a local organisation that is piloting Community Champions Regent’s Park, a resident-led health and wellbeing initiative. Working collaboratively, this intergenerational group identifies problems and comes up with solutions to improve their local area. This piece is the first in a series that speaks to Community Champions, with Kentish Town and Kilburn next.

A resident of the area since 1995, Sergio Rusler has seen children grow up and the neighbourhood around him evolve. Getting involved with Community Champions felt obvious, Sergio understands the neighbourhood well and wants to be hands-on with how it’s shaped. “It made sense that an entity outside the Council can influence some of the projects,” he says.

Sergio is an active Community Champion and feels very passionately about wanting to effect change as a resident. He believes previous projects designed by the Council often don’t take into account what is needed by the community, nor have the best outcomes despite the best intentions.

“It made sense that an entity outside the Council, can influence some of the projects.”

One of the Champions projects was a clean-up, which involved a walk around an estate to find hidden corners and spot every space that a person would be able to access without keys. As well as being an educational exercise, the Champions were able to pinpoint and map out which locations could benefit from placing additional bins.

Along with broader projects, Sergio also feels Community Champions could step in to help neighbours with more individual difficulties they may face. He mentions the example of a neighbour who has mobility issues and can’t tend to her garden anymore; the Champions have stepped in to help with gardening.

A family working together

Sergio and his children Ethan and Isabella all take pride in being Camden-based and play an active role in helping in any way possible. For Sergio, these activities have also helped during a difficult period as he faced unemployment for the first time in 30 years. “We are kept really busy, meeting once a week and chats on a WhatsApp group where we can exchange ideas and coordinate efforts,” he says.

Going forward, the aim is to involve more people and make everyone aware that Community Champions exist – that there is a place where each voice is heard and ensure no one is isolated within their own community.

Community Champions across Camden

Eleanor Rudd, Youth Leadership and Regent’s Park Community Champions Manager for Fitzrovia Youth in Action has helped residents get appropriate training and has facilitated consultations on local issues. “So far, the group have organised litter picks, art pop ups in the park, organised Cumberland Fun Fest, taken part in projects with UCL such as Cumberland Workbench, Wayfinder project and a brilliant art project for young people connected to Euston.” she says.

Plans are in place for more popups and events in the coming months. The Community Champions work is expanding too, the pilot is being trialled on estates in Kentish Town and Kilburn.

Photo credits: Karishma Puri

Want to find out more about Community Champions?

If you’re a local resident or connected to Regent’s Park Estate and you’d like to connect your community, join the Community Champions. This is your opportunity to share your skills, knowledge of the area and make a difference!

You can also receive support and funding for social action and community projects via the Regent’s Park Estate Make It Happen Fund.

Contact Ellie Rudd (ellie.rudd@fya.org.uk / 07923849277) to find out more and how to join or visit Fiztrovia Youth in Action.

Opportunities are open to any locals aged 11+. The Cumberland Youth Club is open to 8-16 year olds for mini champions projects, activities and football team.

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