Community Engagement Service of Catch22 in Barking and Dagenham, Borough’s archives and Valence House Museum along with a group of young people aged 14-19 produced a community film. Young people received an accredited training through Arts Award Qualification (Level 1) and learned how to undertake archives research, interview and use new media to document the life-stories of elderly residents across the wards of the Becontree Estate.
When the estate was first built many people had for the first time running water, indoor toilets and private gardens; but there was a lack of amenities. Parks and gardens formed a crucial component of the community life and were as important as houses. Parks, pubs and open spaces provided a sense of belonging and a focus for community activities.
In the 80s, urban renewal (half of residents allowed to buy their houses) led to more variation in the types of houses on the estate. Today, with a population of 100,000 the Becontree estate continues to be the largest public housing development in the UK. Its social and architectural history is as significant as the stories that local people used to share in their community spaces. We believe that community’s sense of place rests on an understanding of its past. We want to bring back these memories in the lives of today residents.
The Stories of Becontree Project recorded life of the past to create a legacy for the local community in Dagenham. Part of the project, the team will initiate and lead on community space improvements to commemorate the intergenerational journey and improve life of today according to the stories of all heroes of Becontree.