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News 02 November 2017 l Equality & diversity

Celebrating Black History Month with a warm and welcoming community event in Hackney

Hanover's Extra Care Housing estate, Newnton Close in Hackney, opened its doors on 31 October to celebrate Black History Month with a big get-together event for all to enjoy. Staff from Hanover and Hackney Council worked with Friends of Woodberry Down (FOWD) and volunteers to prepare entertaining activities and lunch for around 50 people. Some of the volunteers had arrived at 6.00am that morning to prepare the food.

The residents’ lounge was buzzing with a huge turnout from Newnton Close itself and from five other Hanover estates across Hackney (Appleton Court, Lea View House, Morrell Court, De Beauvor Place and Benabo Court) as well as from the nearby Woodberry Down estate. A superb atmosphere filled the room, with people from many different countries - Guyana, Barbados, Zimbabwe, Antiqua, Ghana, Jamaica, Nigeria, Montserrat, Portugal, Hungary, England and Ireland – enjoying this very special celebration.

Hanover’s Housing Support Officer/Activity Manager Uduak Inko-Tariah said: ‘There’s a brilliant community spirit here today. People have come from near and far, including residents from other Hanover estates and neighbours from the local community.’

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FOWD deliver exceptional services across Hackney, offering a range of activities aimed at reducing social isolation and forging friendships among older people. They are regulars at Newnton Close, working closely with Uduak to organise twice-weekly coffee mornings. Residents from Hanover and the neighbouring estates spoke of how much they enjoy these get-togethers. Shelia Walker from Hackney Council said: ‘What a thoroughly enjoyable event! It’s great to see residents so happy and everyone having such a good time. I hope there will be lots more like this to come!’

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FOWD Chair Amanda Iniss and Treasurer Tracey Boothe are always creating imaginative new ways to engage and entertain residents. They were recently nominated for the 2017 Hackney Council for Voluntary Services - Adiaha Antigha Community Achievement Award for Imaginative Outreach. At the ceremony the Hackney Community and the Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, recognised FOWD's efforts and the contribution it makes to Woodberry Down and to supporting older people.

The Black History event at Newnton Close included a singalong session, accompanied by live music from guitarist Howard Snow. After everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch, there was a fundraising raffle and auction. Tracey proved to be something of an accomplished auctioneer, with a range of quality donated items up for grabs! The proceeds will go towards an FOWD initiative that aims to raise £900 in order to enable 40 people aged 50 years to attend the 2017 winter pantomime at Hackney Empire Theatre. Attendees will pay only a very small portion of the ticket price, with the rest of the ticket costs being met through a range of fundraising efforts that include a JustGiving page set up by FOWD.

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An optician also came along to the estate at the beginning of the event to provide free NHS eye tests. FOWD’s Amanda said, ‘We thought it would be helpful for residents’ wellbeing if we were to organise regular visits by an optician. We’ve also been working with Action on Hearing Loss to arrange free hearing tests for residents of Newnton Close.’

As the event drew to a close, Amanda said: ‘I'm so pleased that FOWD and Hanover were able to come together and hold this event. Many left their homelands to start a new life in the UK all those years ago, and today is a celebration of their efforts as we share Afro-Caribbean food, music and dancing.’

Amanda’s feelings were echoed by Rita Igbinovia, Support Assistant at Hanover's Limetree Court estate in Hackney: ‘There’s so much fun and laughter in this room, with people from different cultures all getting along.’

Tracey Boothe's huge smile at the end of the event summed up the atmosphere perfectly: ‘It’s wonderful to see so many regulars and also new faces here today. It would be brilliant if it could happen more often!’

Friends of Woodberry Down contact points

Amanda Inniss Tel 07876 345 457
Tracey Boothe Tel 07852 328 993
friendsofwoodberrydown@gmail.com