5th September, 2012
2K Plus International Sports Media
Just a few miles from the Olympic Park, in the shadow of the Olympic stadium, a collection of churches gathered together to put on the Make a Difference festival. The festival, known as MAD, involved theatre performances, workshops and exhibitions in several different venues - all of which were aimed at engaging the community in this Olympic borough.
Anne Easter, from the steering committee of MAD, explained that, "We wanted to do something artistic and creative but also wanted to share our faith and the gifts that God has given us with other people - and help to make Newham a better place. A lot of the people round here feel quite left out because they can’t afford to go to the Paralympics, and the large screens are quite far away. So that’s why we chose do it here in the heart of the community."
According to MAD core team member Sarah, Newham "used to be quite the place, back in the day".
"Over the past years, especially recently, a lot of things have been pulled out and it has been neglected in so many ways. There aren’t many places to go and there isn’t anywhere for young people. Buildings have been left for dead as well as churches being deserted and unused. East London has been sucked dry. This festival is trying to bring back a bit of colour and life to this area."
Sarah went on to say that, "With the Paralympics - everyone will be focusing elsewhere. It’s good for us to shine light on the community. There’s lots of money being pumped into the area - not that that’s a bad thing - but it would be good for the people here to be part of that too. This is a great opportunity for us to come in and say, ‘I can’t afford a ticket, you can’t afford a ticket - let's create an event where we can all come together as a community, as a family, and make the most of what we’ve got'.’’
PhoebeThompson is a freelance journalist and producer based in London and is the assistant editor of Youthwork magazine.