A blog written by our Trustees - this time Sam Deards
I joined Hammersmith United Charities as a trustee back in 2014 and since then have seen the charity grow and I have got to know intimately what the charity does and aims to do in the future.
I grew up and went to school in Hammersmith and have always loved the area for its rich history and diversity. I didn’t know anything about the Charity before I was recommended by a friend to meet with Melanie and Tim, but have been very encouraged by the work it does in trying to help the less well off and connecting people from all backgrounds to increase greater community cohesion and neighbourliness.
I sit on the housing committee and have become chair of the grants committee, as well as attending board meetings. I have sat on the admissions panel for a couple of sets of admissions to the sheltered housing and have learned a lot and been moved by the life stories of people that we met and the decisions that had to be made. It also gave me a greater understanding of the social housing landscape and needs in Hammersmith.
As chair of the grants committee, I have seen how grants are so important to enable really worthwhile activities and help in the local community. Some of the issues that we have tried to tackle include isolation, mental health, anti tribalism, integration and community cohesion.
Some events I particularly have enjoyed are the “Enigma” and art discussion lunches that have pulled various people from the local community, together with residents of Sycamore and JB house to discuss art and poetry and what it means to them. It was great to see people chatting and discussing things that they wouldn’t normally discuss and with people that they probably wouldn’t come in to contact with on a day to day basis, but live side by side. Another was the film screening at the Lyric theatre last year. There was an impressive array of contributions from hugely diverse organisations and individuals. To me it succinctly expressed so many ideas and illustrated so many things about the local area from different viewpoints.
I also sit on the board of the Wormholt and White City Big Local Board (Hammersmith United Charities match funds). This gives a greater insight into this particular area and the challenges faced from this diverse community. A particular highlight has been to see the community chest expand and succeed and a great festival last summer with a great array of stalls, food, music and celebration.
Finally, on a slightly separate note, I am also a trustee for the Hammersmith and Fulham Arts Festival which has been going since 2014 and has really grown and expanded in the local area. This year we have got funding from the Arts Council England, together with funds from Hammersmith United Charities and the local council to put on “JOY” a celebration of disability in the borough and will also form part of the 400 year celebration for the Charity. It is wonderful to be involved in this and bringing together different organisations and people, to give a greater voice and freedom to people living with disabilities.