Heritage Lottery Fund boost for Newham – and celebration of history is planned

Newham has officially became an ‘Area of Focus’ for funding and support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

It’s a boost to the borough’s history and heritage and will give locals a chance to apply for grants for projects, writes Colin Grainger.

The announcement was made jointly by the Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz with the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Stuart McLeod, Area Director, London and South, at a special event at the West Ham Town Hall, Stratford.

Newham Council has also been awarded funding of £83,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to launch Newham Heritage Month in May. The theme is Making Home in Newham, celebrating the diversity of Newham’s community. The month will celebrate the culture and heritage of the communities.

Those at the event included community groups, organisations and individuals with an interest in history and heritage and council and National Lottery Heritage Fund representatives.
The strength and depth of feeling about our heritage is demonstrated by the growth in the number of local history clubs and also the fact that the borough has more than 20 social media groups for different parts of the borough posting memories and pictures celebrating heritage daily.
The reception celebrated Newham’s heritage, cultural diversity and creativity by featuring live performances from local artists. National Lottery Heritage Fund announced Newham as one of their focus boroughs until 2024.
Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz said: “This is excellent news for the whole of the borough and will help us celebrate our diverse borough more widely. “
Deputy Mayor Charlene McLean added: “Newham Heritage Month is an opportunity for residents to enjoy where they live with cultural stories, dances, traditions and new ways of communicating. People can visit historic and listed buildings, which will open their doors and welcome visitors. We will also host a range of exhibitions to showcase our rich history.”
Performances were staged on the night from IROKO and the Shpresa Programme and a display from Newham Chinese Association also created huge interest – among them a chance to get your name written in Chinese.
The funding will help provide events in partnership with local organisations, in May.
The Royal Docks Team, a joint initiative between the Mayor of Newham and the Mayor of London, have given £25,000 of match funding to the Newham Heritage Month.
Events in May will include exhibitions, heritage bus tours, films, walks, talks and childrens’ activities in venues across Newham. Residents can also attend reminiscence sessions with senior citizens and dance and spoken word events for young people.
To mark the 75th anniversary of VE day and the end of The Second World War on May 8, Newham Heritage Month will stage reminiscence sessions with residents who remember the end of the war and exhibitions to share memories. Newham lost thousands of soldiers and was badly bombed. Docks and transport links were a major target for aerial bombing.
The move is also backed by umbrella group, Heritage Newham, People, Places, Progress. They have posted almost 3,500 pictures and articles online in the last three years and have held Pop Up exhibitions and created a Young Person’s Heritage Group. They staged the first heritage week in 2017 and second heritage celebration in 2018,
in partnership with Newham Council and many organisations and individuals.
The meeting heard that the National Heritage Lottery Fund will now support more Newham organisations with workshops, guidance and special initiatives to access funding and are calling on organisations and interested groups to recognise and celebrate their heritage.
Mr McLeod said: “Newham is one of the most dynamic and diverse boroughs in London. It has so much important heritage that defines its sense of place and sense of community. We are not going anywhere.
“Our commitment to working with the borough’s many organisations and groups over the next five years is all about unlocking the potential that this heritage has to improve opportunities for local people.”
Selina Papa, the Head of Engagement, England, London and South for the National Lottery Heritage Fund outlined how the funding would go to groups and organisations that have not received funding before and outlined the application process.
“We can give help with the process to anyone who wants to apply for funding. This project can help widen the access to heritage locally.”

* One particular heritage group club, the Royal Docks History Club, celebrates its third birthday in North Woolwich, on January 29 from 6.30pm at the Royal Docks Learning and Activity Centre in North Woolwich. More details on the centre’s Facebook Page or on the Facebook pages of Heritage Newham or My Royal Docks (East).

More details on the funding applications and the Heritage Month, please email Rosie Murdoch at newhamheritage@gmail.com

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