South Hackney youngsters appeal for £53,000 to transform scrap of land into hang-out area

Luke Billingham from Hackney Quest at the site which will be transformed by young people from the ch

Luke Billingham from Hackney Quest at the site which will be transformed by young people from the charity - Credit: Hackney Quest.

A scrap of unused public land in south Hackney could soon be transformed into a hang-out area for all ages by children who live nearby.

Working with architects, designers and construction specialists from Build up, some 60 young people from youth charity Hackney Quest, Berger primary school and Cardinal Pole secondary will decide what should happen on the strip of public land at the junction of Morning Lane, Wick Road and Flanders Way - and then build it themselves.

The idea is to give them a sense of belonging in their neighbourhood.

If they manage to raise £53,000, the project could be complete by spring.

The idea behind the project was driven by research carried out on behalf of the Wick Award, a community development panel funded by the Big Lottery, which is in turn funding the Build Up Hackney project.

Young people reported feeling like they don’t have enough say over change in their area, of being negatively stereotyped and of generational tensions.

“The big thing about them coming together as a team is the different age groups, and it’s about showing 10 or 11-year-olds that teenagers they might be scared of walking past down the street are nurturing, supportive and good role models,” said Luke Billingham, from Hackney Quest whose HQ is 100m away in Poole Road.

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“We will pick students who aren’t getting on brilliantly with standard academic work, but who could benefit from a hands-on exercise.

“The big things the project will build up are leadership, resilience and a sense of ownership in the area, to give them a sense they can contribute positively to it and be recognised for that.

“I grew up in Hackney, so I know the site,” he added.

“There used to be bushes which were cut down because people were hiding naughty things in them.

“It gets strewn with litter and broken glass, and I know it’s been unused for a very long time, because I’ve been walking past it for so long.”

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