What’s been going well and why?

We have taken a large step forward by recruiting three members of staff for The Mill, who will oversee much of the day-to-day work to establish the building’s role at the heart of Walthamstow.  Natasha, Nathan and John have already started taking over the vital task of administrating the building and making contacts with community groups.  This has allowed The Mill’s trustees and volunteers space in which to grow in confidence and take a grip on their roles in the project.

The interest in the project from the community has always been high, and has increased further after the open days last month.  It is extremely encouraging that local shopkeepers and partnership organisations have provided advice and support – and even free drinks on some of the hottest days of the year!

The increased number of people directly involved in the work has been crucial to achieving our aims.   The last month has seen some of the management of the project opened up to staff and partners, who are now able to do the jobs for which they were approached and recruited.  You can feel the momentum behind The Mill speeding up, and it’s great.

Challenges

Making The Mill safe and sustainable has been a huge challenge.  We entered a building that had been vandalised and neglected over many years.  It had no phone lines, unreliable toilets, and swathes of rot and mould.  It took time and patience to find people who could take on this work – and further time to try and entice them to do it at more and more generous rates!

Although we had great painting weekend, which was a highly productive two days attended by dozens of local people, it also uncovered areas of the walls that needed more expert attention.  It’s sad to be reminded that sadly, after years of neglect, parts of the building have been allowed to fall to bits.  This all takes time and expense to fix.

The Mill is taking shape, but we are constantly discovering hidden problems and joys in this building.

Community involvement

The level of support from people in the community has been brilliant.

We have designed and distributed thousands of leaflets across Walthamstow, and hundreds of people have called into the building since work started.  We have been overwhelmed and even moved by all the offers of help, and by enquiries about using the space.  The support from enthusiastic and often highly-skilled volunteers has been massively appreciated – as has the serendipitous arrival of a professional in times of need (such as the painter and decorator who offered assistance just as our ceilings needed a coat of paint!)

Has anything surprising happened, within or around your project so far?

This project is full of surprises.  But the biggest – and the pleasantest – is the continued need for The Mill that is clearly felt by the local community.  It is often other local residents who have lifted the moments when we feel dispirited: no sooner has it begun to feel like we are working in a small group when someone calls by to let us know how enthusiastic they are to know that a community hub is being developed for use by everyone in Walthamstow.

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