Countryside Communities Fund pledges over £23,000 for Barking & Dagenham charities


Countryside, the UK’s leading mixed-tenure developer, has donated over £23,000 from the Countryside £1m Communities Fund to four local initiatives in Barking & Dagenham, near to its Beam Park, Fresh Wharf and Trinity Place regeneration schemes.

£10,000 has been donated to Future Youth Zone, a purpose-built facility for Barking & Dagenham’s young people aged 8 – 19, and up to 25 for those with disabilities. During the coronavirus crisis, the local charity has been supporting young people virtually through one-to-one phone calls, online challenges and activities. The charity has also been providing emergency community support, delivering food and medicine to residents in need.

Countryside has donated £6,804 of funding to Sycamore Trust, a charity already supported by the company. Last year they hosted aa Christmas lunch for Sycamore Trust families at its Beam Park development. The charity provides support and services for families and individuals on the autistic spectrum in Havering, Redbridge and Barking & Dagenham . and this funding will help the charity to improve their offering during the period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

The Communities Fund has donated £5,000 to the Pennu Charity, which promotes the good health and wellbeing of the elderly in Barking & Dagenham. Barking & Dagenham Council Leader Darren Rodwell is a patron of the charity.

Lastly, Countryside is also continuing its support of the Becontree community supermarket, through a Sainsbury’s food order worth £1,000, a £1,500 top-up of fresh produce using local suppliers, as well as the provision of a new freezer. Based in the William Bellamy Children’s Centre - a short walk from Countryside’s Trinity Place development - the community supermarket offers not only discounted produce, but also educational classes and activities, including services that enable residents to make positive changes to their lives. Countryside helped to kickstart the project, by providing the supermarket with equipment to store the food, including two new fridges.

All of these charities are key in supporting people in the local area that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also caused a significant increase in demand for their services, while limiting their ability to provide these as well as their finances. 

The Countryside Communities Fund has been set up to support local charities and groups, food banks and others providing essential local services in locations where Countryside operates across the country. Since launching the fund last month, it has contributed over £500,000. 

Robert Wilkinson, Managing Director, Partnerships East London, Countryside, said: “The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made life far more difficult for many local people and charities. These funds will allow the charities to continue their support for those in need and the wider community at this challenging time. With two multi-year regeneration projects currently in progress, we’re committed to Barking & Dagenham and this holistic vision goes beyond simply building new homes and towards making a difference across the area.”

Gavin Evans, Chief Executive of Future Youth Zone, commented: “I’m really proud of the work that the staff and volunteers at Future Youth Zone have been carrying out over the last few weeks to continue our support for young people and the wider community.  We have been able to respond quickly and develop innovative ways of working that have been valued by young people and residents alike.  This would not be possible without the incredible generosity of our supporters which now includes our exciting new partnership with Countryside.  We look forward to developing our partnership with Countryside for the benefit of the Barking and Dagenham community in the years to come.”

Steve Dixon of the Sycamore Trust added: “We’ve completely changed the way we work in line with government guidelines, but we realised that if we want to carry on supporting our families and individuals then we would need to upgrade some of our equipment and software. Like all charities, we expect fundraising will be very tough in the immediate future, so we’re delighted at the support from Countryside, which will enable us to maintain contact with our clients and continue to offer the support they need.”

Countryside is creating almost 4,000 new homes in Barking & Dagenham in a mix of tenures through its Beam Park, Fresh Wharf and Trinity Place regeneration schemes. In partnership with L&Q, Countryside transforming a former Ford manufacturing plant at Beam Park into a new and vibrant destination spanning 29-hectares and comprising 3,000 new homes. Working with Notting Hill Genesis on the Fresh Wharf development, Countryside is creating over 900 new homes alongside the River Roding.