This is where you start

Our profile of Londoners whose prospects hang in the balance

“This is the world as it is. This is where you start”
Saul Alinsky, the founding father of community organising.

Alinsky’s words speak to the heart of Year Here. Listening to and learning from those at the frontline of inequality is always our first step.

Fahmida wants to go to university but few students with her postcode manage to. Sam is desperate to move out of temporary housing but feasible options are few and far between. Retired plumber Ron is a full time carer and wants to keep his frail wife at home – but life is getting harder and he’s struggling to cope.

Life chances, security, health and happiness: they’re all hanging in the balance for these four Londoners. The system around them can seem clumsy, inhumane and rigged against them. One small slip could be catastrophic; one step forward, two steps back.

We commissioned this film because we wanted to give people a glimpse of the realities faced by some of the people that our Fellows work with across London.

The film was made by Archers Mark, who directed the award-winning Next Goal Wins documentary, chronicling the American Samoan football team’s efforts to recover from the indignity of being known as one of the worst teams in the world.

Miranda and Francis

Miranda and Francis

“I asked him if I could tell his story because it is beautiful and inspiring one. He has transcended all the difficulties of being a person with learning difficulties and tackled more life barriers than anyone should have to through kindness, perseverance and the support of the communities who gave him a place and a purpose.”

Read Miranda’s post about Francis.

Dami and Fahmida

Dami and Fahmida

“Fahmida lives with her mum in Poplar, which lies in the inescapable shadow of Canary Wharf, that monolith of financial abundance. Every story of personal triumph from this area is one worth sharing and celebrating. Whether it is a student who spends weeks coming to school hungry and tired but is still seeing an improvement in their science grades, or a student with behavioural issues caused by their chaotic home environment finally taking tangible steps towards improving their performance.”

Read Dami’s post on educational disadvantage in East London.

Sam and Sam

Sam and Sam

“Robert was on track to finish his social work degree; he now struggles to maintain eye contact or hold a conversation. Anish was halfway through his engineering course but became convinced someone was moving things in his room; now he won’t talk about anything else. Too often, mental illness weaves itself deeper into young lives the longer they are without a home. Surrounded by people yet without real human connection.”

Read Sam’s post on temporary housing.

Sneh and Ron

Sneh and Ron

“Patricia’s health restricts her mobility and she is at risk of being socially isolated. But with Ron’s love and care, she has support and company. With the attendance allowance, they can make ends meet and Patricia can stay at home. Life isn’t easy but they are happy to be together.”

Read Sneh’s post about isolation in old age.