Local Links: A Tower Hamlets initiative in Community Asset Mapping

This map presents the results of a research project commissioned by Tower Hamlets Health Promotion to find out what places in Tower Hamlets have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing.

This research initially took part in the eight wards in the East of the borough, and adopted a 'Participatory Appraisal' approach. Participatory Appraisal is a set of community-led research techniques which have at their heart the belief that local people are the real experts on their own lives, and that the best place to find out their views is where they go in the course of their day-to-day business.

Around 30 community members, reflecting the diversity of local communities, were recruited in the borough in partnership with Island House Community Centre, and were trained in participatory research. They then used their local knowledge, networks and newly acquired skills to find and speak to people, enabling them to tell their stories about key 'community assets' that make them feel good about themselves or that they find useful.

These assets are now on this map, and to name but a few, range from places like Mudchute Farm, where there are glorious and inspiring views of the Thames and Canary Wharf; to Apian Court where the 'Bow Belles' and 'Bow Geezers' meet each week to socialise and overcome the isolation that comes as people get older; to ‘Dantastic’ where the youngest members of the community dance and have fun together.

The map entries include what people actually said about the assets, in their own words. The diversity of assets uncovered by the researchers is remarkable, demonstrating the wealth of activities and resources that are of enormous importance to the residents of the borough. By making visible some of the things that are often beneath the radar, this map celebrates the richness and vibrancy of what is going on in our Tower Hamlets communities, often stereotyped as 'disadvantaged', 'impoverished' and 'excluded'.

By putting this information online, we hope to create a sustainable, easy-to use visual database of the places that people in Tower Hamlets find useful: a simple way for people arriving in the area to find out what's available, for new workers and organisations wishing to know what’s going on, and for people of Tower Hamlets generally to enhance their own and others' wellbeing.

As a result of the pilot project, more entries from the West of the Borough are now being put on the map, and we are planning to get the many, many other assets that we know are there but have not had time to access yet up there as well.

This is work in process, and we would love to hear from you about any assets that you use, know about, or would want included in this on-line resource.