Colin Grainger

Real East End life: Launch of vital Friends of Community Links group

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It was an honour to be part of the launch of Friends of Community Links group last night at the headquarters of the group in Barking Road, Canning Town.

Celebrities Ricky Grover and Perry Fenwick of BBC’s EastEnders launched the group with an impassioned plea for people to support Community Links and become a friend. Ricky and Perry were both born locally and describe Newham as their “manor” and are really committed to giving something back to their local community.

The Friends Programme invites local people to get involved in local events and activities in aid of Community Links.

Those present at the launch were given the message of the new group … You are our community, we want you to be our Friends too. Our Friends will help us raise much needed funds to run programmes and activities for local people including community centres, drop-in advice sessions, children’s play, youth clubs, Christmas activities and activities for older people.

Community Links Friends will organise events and activities in aid of the community and all the work that they do – and have done over the past 37 years: coffee mornings, quiz nights, dinners, concerts, Christmas parties, organising collections in local shops and the town centre. It is an important step and one than harks back to the days of the organisation’s creation in a small house in East Ham.

Community Links Co-Founder, Kevin Jenkins, told those present: “Government grants and funding for vital community activities get cut more and more each year. I’ve been working at the heart of the community for over 37 years. I know how important Community Links is to local people – and how vital you are to us”.


Links’ Chief Executive Geraldine Blake welcomed everyone to the meeting and explained how a big reduction in funding means the organisation needs to find a range of partners, supporters and donors to help them deliver their ambitious programme of work.

But the vision of the group remains the same, to be champions of social change.

I was honoured to be asked to be one of the founding friends. Links purpose, as it has been over nearly 40 years, is to tackle the causes and consequences of social exclusion by developing and running excellent practical activites and by sharing the local experience with practioners and policy makers nationwide.

Both the TV stars and Kevin Jenkins spoke passionately about tackling causes not symptoms, and finding solutions not palliatives.

Links’ message remains the same and is one I am proud to have been associated with for many years. “To recognise that we need to give as well as to receive and to appreciate that those who experience a problem understand it best. To teach but never stop learning and act local but think global. To distinguish between the diversity that enriches society and the inequalities that diminish it. To grow – but to build a network not an empire … and to be driven by dreams, and judged on delivery.

To never do things for people but to guide and support and train, enable and inspire.”

If you want to join the Friends, go to . More information on (020) 7473 9669 or at

You can also watch a video of the two celebrities at

* Pictured, youngsters from Community Links singing two songs to launch the group

* Featured image Ricky and Perry with Kevin and the youngsters 

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