During the past month a vast area of grey concrete wall in Thamesmead has been transformed thanks to a joint project between the Trust, Gallions Housing Association, the London Borough of Bexley and Groundwork London.
The Dulux ‘Let’s Colour’ Project splashed out buckets of paint with local volunteers rolling up their sleeves and picking up paint brushes to turn part of their building into a colourful space to feel proud of.
Trust Community Development Officer Emer O’Sullivan said: “The mural, which is highly visible from Harrow Manor Way, has made a strong visual impact in the area.
“Steve Wilson, the community artist leading the project, developed an excellent rapport with local residents and has fully engaged the local community in the project, inspiring people to get involved.
“Despite very cold weather conditions during this period they have a done a marvellous job of brightening up the side wall of Corraline Walk and consequently brightening up the estate overall.
“Residents appeared delighted with this colourful project in their neighbourhood with one resident saying: ‘It has really given us something to talk about’ and others saying they wanted to paint the front of their houses too!”
Dan Hill, Head of Regeneration at Gallions, said: “We’re very proud to have been chosen as one of the ‘Let’s Colour UK’ projects. The transformation has not only improved the area aesthetically, but empowered the community to form personal relationships and feel proud of the work they’ve accomplished.”
At the launch event Lucy Webb, Groundwork London, thanked the community for their support in the project and said: “We’re delighted to have been able to reflect the vibrancy and diversity of the Thamesmead community with this fantastic use of colour”.
Bexley Councillor John Davey said: “What the residents created was brilliant. It shows that there is a real community spirit and you can tell Coralline Walk residents are proud of where they live and what they were able to accomplish, as they should be.”
Emma Wilson, who lives in Coralline Walk, said it made her feel proud of where she lives. “We stand out now, I can say to people I live in the block - you know the one with the bright colours - and they will know exactly what I’m talking about.
"I’ve met neighbours that I had seen around, but never had the opportunity to talk to. This project has allowed me to meet people in my community and we even discussed getting together when the project is finished. I think it has really brought out the best in people.”
For those observing the launch weekend’s painting days it was easy to see what Ms. Wilson was talking about. Adults helping children stencil, neighbours who had never had a full conversation were suddenly having a cup of tea and discussing their neighbourhood. There was even a common consensus around the block that they would have a neighbourhood community barbeque when the weather eventually warms up.
What this event proved is that these community projects work. Not only do they create a difference physically, but they give neighbours an excuse to meet each other, communicate and find common ground in an age where it is the norm not to know your neighbour or your community.
Thamesmead needs more of these projects like this that get people active in their community and gives them a reason to love where they live. The ‘Let’s Paint a Difference’ project works; and Thamesmead is the perfect place for other projects like it.