The grand opening day for Royal Wharf Community Dock has helped the community centre at Royal Wharf off to a flying start.
The community centre has set up home in brand new premises in Royal Wharf, where residents can drop by and take part in fitness classes, computer coding, board games, and even salsa dancing. A great place to meet and get to know your neighbours.
The centre is run by local charity West Silvertown Foundations (WSF), which has been working to develop thriving communities in the Royal Docks for more than two decades and already manages the nearby Britannia Village Hall.
The centre’s five-strong team pulled out all the stops to ensure the new facility got off to a flying start. September’s opening day had food stalls, performances by the acclaimed choir Stratford East Singers and cocktails and other refreshments courtesy of local businesses Triple Two, Chips ‘n’ dat and Gem’s Delights. There were also taster sessions of the centre’s activities, many of which are run by Royal Wharf’s resourceful residents, eager to share their talents, explains Chloe Lee, a community activator with the centre. “The yoga, coding and other activities have come about because keen residents have come to us and offered to do them.”
The centre’s opening celebration came hot on the heels of the Royal Wharf Summer Fete in August, where residents enjoyed a day of music, yoga and other activities and a global menu of foodie treats. The festivities also included an old-school sports day, complete with traditional egg-and-spoon races, which was organised by Richard House Children’s Hospice, an east London children’s charity that benefitted from the day.
WSF is working with the Royal Wharf Residents’ Association and residents themselves to find out what they would like to see happening at the centre. Its 190 square metre main space, 60 square metre secondary space and two meeting rooms have a busy timetable of activities already and when classes aren’t in progress residents can pop in to relax with a coffee, have a game at the table tennis table or enjoy some quiet family reading time. Spaces are also available for hire for parties or other activities, with a discounted rate for Royal Wharf residents.
The centre is open from 9-til-9 on weekdays and 9-til-5 at weekends and is already proving particularly popular with young working professionals and young families. To cater for the latter, the centre is providing activities specifically for children, including soft play and after school family time. “We’ve had more than 100 parents and children come along to our soft play sessions so far,” says Chloe. “Parents are often especially keen to make friends when they move to a new area and don’t know people.”
That hints at the serious purpose behind all these fun and fitness activities. Moving into a new home brings with it the adventures of finding your way in an unfamiliar community and a centre like this can provide valuable connections among and between an area’s new and existing residents that can ultimately lead to friendships and cohesive communities. John Mulryan, Ballymore’s Group Managing Director, has said that it has always been the company’s ambition to, “build a community here where residents will meet their neighbours and get to know each other.”