Making Waltham Forest home

Amy Croome urges local people to get involved in their community

Amy Croome

Amy Croome

I never wanted to end up in Waltham Forest. Boring suburbia, located just that a few miles too far from central London and cut off from all the action through the marshes.

My house full of friends was the only island in the vast deserts of social and aesthetic nothingness of Walthamstow and Leytonstone. With nowhere to go, nothing to discover and no one interesting to meet, I desperately wanted to leave but, like many 20-somethings, I found myself underemployed and priced out of more central London locations.

Maybe I tired of my attitude and lack of enthusiasm or maybe I just realised that my dislike of Waltham Forest probably said more about me than that it did about the area. Either way, I started to try to give my new location a shot.

At first, I discovered parks and swimming pools and pretty little streets I hadn’t walked down before: then came cafés, pubs, shops, galleries and markets. I started getting involved in local community projects – initially as a favour to a friend – and then for myself: one project and group leading to the next one.

Earlier this year, I interviewed 15 individuals from local community groups – all of these ‘community people’ forming a close network and offering inspiration. I got a local job. Slowly a whole world of things to do, people to meet and projects to get involved in – invisible for so long – began to reveal itself.

I made amazing new friends. For the first time since moving from my small childhood village, I would bump into people I knew on the streets and on nights out. I was falling for Waltham Forest. I was finding a home.

I urge everyone to get involved in local community projects. If you need any pointers, contact me at amy@socialspider.com or drop in to the Hornbeam, Voluntary Action Waltham Forest or The Mill for advice.