News from Barking & Dagenham – March 2023
30 safe spaces, especially for women
The city has set up 30 “safe havens”, spaces that offer protection to people who feel threatened at the moment. These can be women who feel that someone is following them. Or women or men who feel threatened in their homes. In these shelters there are helpers who, for example, inform friends or relatives, there is information about buses and trains or the police can also be informed.
British premiere for “Marianne”
The French-Irish film production “Marianne” had its UK premiere at the Broadway Theatre in Barking. This is part of the International Women’s Day activities that run over a whole month in our twin town. It tells the stories of seven Muslim women who felt oppressed in France. One of them is the French ban on wearing headscarves. One of the women portrayed in the film is Saima Ashraf, deputy council leader, who herself moved to Britain because she feels freer and more equal there.
Many more homeless
The number of homeless people sleeping on pavements and in shop entrances has increased by over 70% in East London in one year. Comparisons were made between the night of 1 November 2021 and ’22. Mayor Sadiq Khan called the trend “extremely alarming”, saying it was triggered by the cost of living crisis.
Art helps the environment
Community spirit, art and care for the environment have been reconciled by Laura Iosifescu, Barking artist, in an art project now completed. “Noah’s Ark” is what she calls her sculpture, which she created with the support of hundreds of volunteers. The title is a bit of a pun: Noah’s Ark is the arcche, arc would be the bow; and bow-shaped is the finished sculpture.
Since September ’22, Laura and her volunteers have been collecting empty plastic bottles weekly from parks, green spaces and riverbanks. They then painted them brightly and assembled them in a wooden frame to create a large sculpture. The participants hope that this will lead to more togetherness among citizens, but they also want to provide food for thought and activate imitators.
The whole thing is located in the Icehouse quarter, the old harbour area where Barking and Dagenham has settled artists who have been displaced by high rents elsewhere in London.
The Barking & Dagenham and Witten twinning arrangement is one of the oldest existing contacts between a German town and an English town.