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‘I love hearing their life stories’: Tanisha Reynolds on running Hackney’s Wayside Community Centre

PUBLISHED: 15:08 24 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:16 28 November 2016

Tanisha (left) joins the over 50s Guitar drop in session at Wayside Community Centre, Lower Clapton

Tanisha (left) joins the over 50s Guitar drop in session at Wayside Community Centre, Lower Clapton

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Tanisha Reynolds runs the Wayside Community Centre in Lower Clapton Road. She tells The Gazette about having an ‘old soul’

Tanisha at Wayside Community Centre, Lower ClaptonTanisha at Wayside Community Centre, Lower Clapton

Tanisha Reynolds jumped at the chance to run Wayside Community Centre two years ago, because she has always got on with older people.

“Maybe I’m an old soul,” mused the 36-year-old. She started off as a volunteer at the centre, which caters for over-50s in Lower Clapton Road with the likes of armchair workouts, guitar lessons and knitting.

It was set up by Sister Jean John nearly 30 years ago for people who were vulnerable or depressed so they could find friendship and companionship.

“I think older people have much more life experience,” said Tanisha.

Tanisha (left) joins the over 50s Guitar drop in session at Wayside Community Centre, Lower Clapton, pictured with participant Monica MorrisTanisha (left) joins the over 50s Guitar drop in session at Wayside Community Centre, Lower Clapton, pictured with participant Monica Morris

“They’re more patient – they have a lot more to share. You learn a lot from older people. They are welcoming, engaging and funny.

“They always tell you to be independent and be strong and love everyone – those are my top tips from these guys.”

Tanisha was born in Jamaica and found it scary to emigrate aged 14 to London, which was “more advanced and faster than what you are used to”. She went to Clapton Girls secondary school, then Hackney Community College.

She likes hearing about the experiences of women who come to the centre, some of whom were among the first Caribbean migrants to arrive in the UK.

“You get to hear what it was like when they first arrived in the country and what it was like back home, and the changes they have seen,” said Tanisha, who now has a 15-year-old daughter herself.

The centre is hoping to raise £3,000 in just three days as part of the Big Give’s Christmas Challenge.

All donations will be matched by Big Give, meaning if they reach the target they will gain £6,000 to fund the Merry Heart Project. The idea is to educate people on the effects of heart disease and other chronic conditions relating to lack of exercise and diet, and provide fun activities like zumba fitness, group discussions and advocacy services.

Tanisha said: “We hope everyone will give generously this Christmas to help us reach our target and enable us to carry on the work we all feel so passionately about.”

The campaign goes live on Tuesday at noon and will run for 72 hours.

Click here to donate.


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