De Beauvoir to house UK's first East and South-East Asian resource centre

The now derelict An Viet House, also known as the Old Bath House, will be transformed into a community centre

The now derelict An Viet House, also known as the Old Bath House, will be transformed into a community centre - Credit: Hackney Chinese Community Services

A De Beauvoir building once used to support Vietnamese families in Hackney for decades will be transformed into a new East and South-East Asian (ESEA) community centre.

The restoration plans for the former An Viet House, also known as the Old Bath House, in Englefield Road were made possible after Hackney Council announced yesterday (November 30) that agreed investment would bring the building back into use.

The site has remained vacant for several years and fallen into a state of disrepair despite its long history as a centre for Britain's Vietnamese community, set up in 1981, to support Vietnamese people settling in London after the Vietnam War. 

Jabez Lam from Hackney Chinese Community Services shows officers from the Greater London Authority around the building

Jabez Lam, centre manager and lead for the development at Hackney Chinese Community Services (far right), shows officers from the Greater London Authority around the building - Credit: Hackney Chinese Community Services

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville said: “It is with pride that we announce this investment for a new community centre, which will provide a vital facility for an estimated 8,000 people living here who were born in East and South-East Asian countries."

Plans to turn the building into a community centre have been in the works since 2017.

Hackney Chinese Community Services (HCCS) is collaborating with the council on the plans.

Inside the building which has been unused for several years

Inside the building which has been unused for several years - Credit: Hackney Chinese Community Services

A joint investment of £1.4million was agreed to refurbish the building, with the council helping HCCS secure Greater London Authority ‘Good Growth’ funding of more than £450,000 alongside £950,000 of direct council investment.

Services provided will include helping people from Hong Kong achieve British National Overseas Visa status. 

The centre will also offer local people training, education, advocacy and advice along with arts, culture and social activities.

Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations at An Viet in 2018, attended by Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville

Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations at An Viet in 2018, attended by Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville - Credit: Hackney Chinese Community Services

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Jabez Lam, Centre Manager at HCCS said: “We are thankful and encouraged by the Mayor of Hackney and the cabinet for their investment into this historical building, enabling the establishment of the UK’s first East and South-East Asian resource centre."

Jabez Lam has campaigned for equal rights for over 30 years and founded Chinese civil rights organis

Jabez Lam has campaigned for equal rights for over 30 years and founded Chinese civil rights organisation Min Quan. Picture: Maria Garbutt-Lucero - Credit: Maria Garbutt-Lucero

HCCS has appointed Hackney Central-based practice 00 Architecture to develop proposals for the project.

The centre will include a commercial kitchen, community café, an outdoor space and hall for events, meeting spaces and hot desking space for hire with high-speed broadband.

Learn more about The An Viet Foundation at news.hackney.gov.uk/an-viet-foundation-history-secured-for-the-future

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