South London Press & Mercury
By Francesca Casonato, Local Democracy Reporter
Four organisations rooted in South London will get the second round of the Mayor’s Community Spaces at Risk Fund to keep their activities running after the pandemic.
One of them is Oasisplay in Lambeth, a charity that provides a safe space for children with disabilities, and is entitled to a £16,800 fund from the Mayor of London’s Office.
The Director of Oasisplay, Joanne Brown, explained that their ties with the community run deeply since their start in 1973.
She said: “Oasis was funded by parents who wanted to use green spaces for their children to play, because back in the days there were limited parks and spaces in Lambeth.
It’s open to everybody and we offer an inclusive service, so that disabled and non-disabled children can play together.”
During lockdown, they were forced to put on hold all of their in-person activities, but this didn’t stop them from keeping children engaged in a different way.
Joanne said: “Our staff posted on Youtube some activities that families could do at home, like arts and crafts or some fitness exercises to do in their garden.
We also did some welfare online calls with the families, to see if they were receiving the support they needed.”
Oasisplay’s commitment to their community has been recognised by the Mayor of London, and they have already decided how to put their £16,800 grant to good use.
Director Joanne Brown explained: “We will use them to pay for our new project, the Nature Garden.
It’s gonna be a space to provide community services to the children, but we will also host a school nursery, which will generate an income that we will use to keep all of our free community activities open.”
Oasisplay is not the only grassrooted association awarded by the Mayor of London for its services to the neighbourhood.
Based in a flat block in Peckham, The Ernest Foundation is also waiting for the second half of their £14000 grant to support their activities for almost 100 people with AIDS and HIV in their community.
Mr Ernest Nkrumah, the founder of the charity, said that he already knows what he will do with the money: “We will use them to pay the rent for the Community Centre where we run our meetings. This will help us to go back to see people in person after the lockdown.”
“They prefer this to online calls because they can meet with others, rather than be alone. Also, not all of them want to show their homes on Zoom, so most of the time they don’t use the video. When they meet in person they can see each other and socialise.”
Since 2006, the Ernest Foundation has provided support for people in London who are HIV positive, to help them see beyond their fears and seek the help they need.
Mr Nkrumah said: “Because of the AIDS stigma, people in the past wouldn’t come out and receive the support they needed.
So we started running seminars to build up their confidence and make them come out. We also help them get in touch with a GP and find the right medications.”
These two organisations, along with the Lewisham Irish Community Centre and the Goldsmiths Community Association in Lewisham, are among the 30 grassroots community groups set to receive a part of the £360,000 fund.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Community spaces provide much-needed support and assistance to Londoners, and have been lifelines to so many throughout the pandemic.
I will continue to do all I can to support them as London rebuilds and recovers.”
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