Special Reports

Last updated: 6 march, 2012 - 15:10 GMT

Great Expectations: Meet the residents

Members of the community living on a large deprived housing estate in Hackney, East London are contemplating their future.

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The London 2012 Olympics are soon to arrive on their doorstep.

It is a place where Jamaicans live next door to Turks, and Somalis live alongside Senegalese and Congolese.

Find out more about some of the individuals featured in Great Expectations:

Erick Ochieng

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Twenty-three year old Erick Ochieng came to live on the estate from Kenya.

He was 12 years old when he arrived in London and has recently spent a few weeks holiday in Nairobi visiting his relatives.

As an amateur boxer, Erick sees the forthcoming Olympics as an inspiration and something to work towards.

He says that to qualify for the Olympics would give excellent exposure as an athelete.

Erick says that sport has been a great discipline which has fed into other areas of his life.

It has helped keep him off the streets and out of trouble and has given him the motivation to work hard to achieve his goals.

James Cook, MBE

James Cooke

Known as 'The Bandit' during his professional boxing career, due to his signature moustache which he didn't shave off until after he had won the British and European Super-Middleweight Championship titles in the 1990's.

James Cook has been living on the estate trying to help the kids who live there by giving them something to do.

He took over the running of the estate's youth club, converting part of it into a professional boxing gym.

He was awarded the MBE from the Queen for his community and youth work.

He describes his life journey as, "Coming from Jamaica to Peckham, from Peckham to Hackney, then from Hackney to Buckingham Palace."

Darrell James

Darrell James

Darrell knows first hand about the problems posed by gangs and youth crime.

He was given a three-year prison sentence after his time involved in a gang on the estate.

Since his release, he has been trying to break the estate-to-prison cycle for the kids coming up behind him.

His efforts did not go unnoticed and he was awarded the Thierry Henry Award at a star-studded ceremony attended by among others, the Chelsea star Didier Drogba.

Darrell talks about the Olympics in terms of the change he sees around him.

He thinks it's a beautiful thing but he worries about the growing gap between the rich and poor widening as the new developments lure in a new class of people into the area.

Ruksana and Fatima

Ruksana and Fatima

Ruksana lives with her two children and husband on the estate.

Her sister and family also live nearby, just a few streets away. They are originally from Islamabad in Pakistan.

Ruksana hopes that the Olympics will provide more opportunities for sport in the area, but one of the main considerations for her joining in as a Muslim woman, is whether there are female only sports sessions. She is also interested in becoming a volunteer for the Games.

Fatima lives a few streets away from Ruksana. She is of Bangladeshi origin and has been part of female only sports sessions for Muslim women at her work.

Fatima works for a housing association and understands there is an acute social housing shortage in the area, but doesn't know whether the regeneration going on, will necessarily solve this problem.

Ali Aksoy

Ali Aksoy

Ali is from Turkey. He lives next door to a family who are Greek Cypriot and his other neighbours are Bengali, Jamaican and Irish.

Ali chairs the Hackney Refugee Forum and has over 60 different communities attending his meetings.

He competed in the European Basketball Championships in his youth but restricts himself to swimming when he is in Turkey now.

Ali is excited about the Olympics but worried about rising rents and training opportunities for refugees not coming soon enough.

He is happy to see the place looking generally cleaner than before.

Hillary Wilgress

Hilary Wilgress

Hillary has lived and worked in Hackney for the last 20 years.

She is a mother to two boys, a seven year old gymnast and a 15 year old, who she encouraged to take up boxing as she wanted him to be able to protect himself out on the streets.

She is worried about youth crime in the area and the gangs that operate on the estates.

She thinks that the Olympics should look to give these kids something to do and she hopes they won’t be forgotten.

Hillary has always been active. She does martial arts and fitness classes at the local gym after work.

She loves living on an estate because she knows everyone nearby and appreciates the ethnic diversity of her neighbours.

It means she celebrates Diwali, eats Ghanaian food and her son visits the mosque with his childminder.

Mark Whyte

Mark Whyte

If you cannot find Mark at the estate community centre, then he may well be on the Hackney Marshes where he helps run the estate football teams for men and the under 11s.

The Hackney Marshes are a huge expanse of football pitches, the largest concentration of pitches in Europe and they are located just over a short footbridge from the estate.

Mark works full time in the mental health sector but his spare time is consumed by football and organising community activities.

The men's estate football team play as part of a wider Sunday morning league. They play directly opposite the Olympic development.

Mark is angry over plans to concrete over their pitch to make way for a car park for the duration of the Games, despite promises that the pitches will be returned afterwards.

New changing rooms and a sports facility are also being built at a cost of £13m.

He is worried that all this will adversely effect the grassroots football that has been played on the Marshes for generations.

Shereen Rowe

Shereen Rowe

In her twenties and with dreams of owning her own company, Shereen works out at the estate boxing gym to let go of her stress.

She thinks sport is helping to keep her out of trouble as she does not have much money to do other things.

She left her job in the accounts department at Chelsea Football Club to fulfil her ambitions and to go travelling.

Due to family problems, she currently finds herself living back on the estate and unemployed.

She loves the sense of community on the estate. She hopes the close proximity she will have to the world’s best athletes will rub off on her and kick start her own career.

Sermin Aksoy

Sermin Aksoy

Sermin Aksoy has been teaching English as a second language to local women.

She is disappointed by promises to help Hackney's large refugee and migrant communities into jobs.

Part of the Olympics pledge was to lift the area out of social deprivation and to provide employment opportunities.

The biggest barrier to work for Sermin's students was not having good enough spoken and written English.

She says that her classes have been cut and that promises of training have not been kept.

Neslihan Sag

Neslihan Sag

Neslihan is from Turkey.

She is hoping for a job as a result of the regeneration going on in east London.

She has many skills.

Her father is a carpenter and she is skilled in DIY and dabbles in electrics, painting and decorating.

She needs professional training, which starts with improving her English.

Students at the Horn of Africa Homework Club

Ahmed, 10, has a Somali background. Sintayeh, 15 and Abel, nine are both from Ethiopia.

These kids are looking forward to seeing the athletes from their respective countries coming to London.

They want to cheer on the long-distance runners from home and even hope to get a chance to meet them. When it comes to the sport they do now, money is an issue.

Abel wants to join a football team but has to wait until his father can save the money.

They are being taught about the Olympics at school, watching videos in assembly and going on trips, and teachers are trying to inspire them to participate in sport.

Are they succeeding? Yes, says Abel, but he would probably want to do sport anyway.


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