Tulse Hill is a densely populated part of South London, bordering Brixton to the north and Streatham to the west. Our parish contains a high degree of social housing, including the large estates of Tulse Hill and St Martin’s, as well as at least four others. Although there is a high crime rate including distressing cases of domestic and gang violence, there is an energetic spirit for good among the people of Tulse Hill. So in this context we have a constant need for affordable community facilities and genuine community cohesion.
People need space to run clubs and other enterprises; individuals need space to hold functions; we as a church need space for our growing youth club, our expanding toddler groups, our lively social club, our highly valued senior citizens’ fellowship. Even though there are community spaces in Tulse Hill, there is a huge demand for more.
Individuals need connection. In spite of being densely populated, Tulse Hill is as socially fragmented as anywhere else – if not more so. There is a huge need for inter-generational activities in which boys and girls, women and men all participate. Mixed gender, multi-ethnic, inter-generational activities have a proven track record in promoting mutual respect, trust, vision, social cohesion and personal responsibility.
Children need practical education. Through schools and the media, children know more than ever about climate change. But knowledge in theory alone will breed cynicism or despair unless practical avenues to hope can be opened up. What our children desperately need is involvement in practical activities that can make a big difference and give vision for the future.
Our Project will deliver these. Straw Bale construction lends itself to community building, and our partners, Straw Works, are expert facilitators. In particular, straw bale construction is friendly to, and empowering for, women – a crucial factor in community building. Involvement in, for example, the clay plastering of our building will make a lasting impact on children and adults alike. Even when the construction process is over, the building will lend itself to being an educational centre and an example of what can be achieved. And because the energy requirement of this new facility will be so low, it will be affordable for local people to use.