Monday 7 October 2013, 11:09
I don't generally dwell on the question of “Why?” If there is a need I do it, or at least I try. However, I was recently jarred by a very stark answer to that question I do not ask. When I attempted to talk about it, I did so battling back an unexpected churn of emotion.
The cause of my disorientation was a film commissioned by BBC Outreach and produced by Benjamin Till and Landsky, “Tales of the White City”.
I have, for some years, been Chairman of White City Residents' Association and the Urban Partnership Group. More recently I have set up a neighbourhood forum and social enterprise. I, along with others in my neighbourhood, work to bring greater equality of opportunity to a community that, for many years and for many reasons, finds “the system” to be unresponsive to the complexities of their circumstances.
A few months ago our long term neighbour in W12, the BBC, offered us the opportunity to share our experiences, in words and music. An offer that the people of White City embraced, openly, enthusiastically and with both energy and soul. They gave of themselves honestly.
I often meet with representatives of central government, local government and a variety organisations locally and more widely, even internationally, to talk about White City. Part of my challenge in those meetings is to give those I speak to an understanding of what is an extraordinary place to live, populated by an extraordinary group of people, over 5,000 of them.
“Tales of the White City” does, in the most eloquent and direct way, what all the pages of reports and streams of data about our neighbourhood seem never to achieve. The film presents the diversity of our experiences alongside the unity of our community.
I am very grateful that we now have an extremely direct way of communicating to those that do not know us the “Who” and the “Why” of White City.
*BBC Outreach links the BBC to communities where it has a large number of staff members - in London, that is the two boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Westminster. BBC Staff members have been working alongside the people of the White City Estate for more than half a century and this film was an opportunity to learn more about our neighbours by asking them to tell us directly about the issues that matter to them. The film, which involves more than 400 people from the estate, is a moving and unique account of life in west London.