Cultural Connector Case Study: Susanna Wallis

‘I was gobsmacked that finally something was happening to pull people in’

Barking and Dagenham has had bad press. Things like [CBD] will improve mental and physical health and hopefully produce more positive press. I was born on what is now the Gascoigne estate. I was dreading coming back to Barking and Dagenham after university because there was nothing going on; nothing new was happening, people wouldn’t travel into London, so it was very cut off. We only ever heard a lot of negativity. I was gobsmacked that finally something was happening to pull people in.

The end result is a positive effect on the residents of the borough. We’re all in the same mindset of moving the borough forward and making it a better place. It’s enabling me to move forward and I think it’s giving me a career. Because this borough has no foundation for this work, we’re having to build those foundations and we’re having to be persistent and resilient in battling through the negativity. I’ve increased my confidence in saying my ideas and I know I can give good suggestions and initiate projects. I’ve met so many people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

It’s enabling people to realise that it’s ok to be creative or different. Creativity is the core of everything; people need to realise that. We definitely need to continue to network people together so that we can further the cause of CBD. I’d really like to bring creativity into the environment, so maybe a group of green connectors.  I think the long-term impact will be accepted and viable creative industries in the borough.