Supporting a campaign to revive key community space

Updated on 20/02/20

Roman Road Trust have now successful raised enough funds to revive The Common Room.

Local grassroots organisation Roman Road Trust is running a crowdfunding campaign to transform The Common Room – a derelict community space on Roman Road Car Park- and they need your help. 

Once a lively, semi-outdoor hub for public-facing events, The Common Room on Roman Road now lies empty, in too poor a condition to be used.

Places like The Common Room, where local people can gather together for a myriad of reasons – community meetings, jumble sales, classes, workshops, training sessions, children’s parties, supper clubs and exhibitions – are crucial for our community to thrive. 

After all, multiple university studies have established that green and creative public spaces in urban environments make people happier, and a longstanding Harvard study found that meaningful social relationships are the key to longer, happier lives.

Restoring The Common Room will give our high street exactly this type of space: a publicly funded, centrally located, semi-outdoor hub that is by and for the community. It is somewhere for residents to gather – where organisations and individuals to share and exchange skills, knowledge, and learning.

As a not-for-profit, community-led magazine we work to support our local high street, and help local people feel more connected to each other and their wider social network. We know our readers and supporters care passionately about this cause too – which is why we are throwing our support behind the Trust’s campaign.

Arguably, places like the Common Room are needed more than ever, considering how 40% of youth clubs across the capital have closed in less than a decade. With less and less accessible, family-friendly spaces in London, our little corner of the city can greatly benefit from a welcoming and affordable spot for our residents to enjoy. We can’t afford to let this space die.

If the Roman Road Trust is successful in their Crowdfunding campaign, the local area will regain this valuable community area.

‘The Common Room will be governed by what local people really want,’ says Rosie Vincent, The Director of Roman Road Trust. 

‘Even before it became too derelict to be used, it brought people together as a platform for local people to share their own work and interests, whether it’s yoga, or creating writing lessons. We even had a Santa’s grotto.  We’re so close to being able to put on these types of activities again.’

The Common Room was was first built in 2014 on a patch of unused space on Ford Road, built in conjunction with students from Cass School of Architecture. In addition to being an events space, local community groups would also meet there, including the Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Forum, and the Bow Suffragettes. Essentially, it was a forum where members could discuss how to make their neighbourhood better for everyone.

Discussions of The Common Room’s revival has already attracted organisations larger and further afield, – including Rich Mix, Queen Mary’s University and Four Corners: a local film and photography organisation.  They have expressed interest in putting on outreach and skills development programmes for residents around Roman Road.

Vincent emphasises that there are two aims to the crowdfunding campaign: the first is to raise enough funds to bring the building to life, and the second is to show support for the project from the community.

‘It’s part of the Mayor’s crowdfund. This means that the Mayor of London’s office will look at our campaign and they will consider how many people support it.’

‘If they think it has generated enough interest, they will pledge £50,000. So we’re not expecting everyone to donate £50 or more pounds. By pledging to our project, it’s really more about showing your support.’

It is evident that this campaign is not just about the quantity of money. It is about the local community, showing their support for what their neighbourhood can be: which is an inclusive, and lively space, with something for everyone.

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