The home of Waltham Forest Echo has been recognised for its contribution to the community
A former library building that was almost sold to private developers just five years ago has now been recognised for its role as a community hub.
The Mill in Coppermill Lane, Walthamstow, was transformed thanks to a team of local volunteers and has since become home to the Waltham Forest Echo along with a community radio group, acupuncture clinic and Spanish classes, plus chess, book and bike clubs.
High-profile cultural events have been held at The Mill, such as The Greatest Little Art Show with original postcard pieces by Turner Prize winning artists Grayson Perry and Jeremy Deller that were given away in a raffle along with schoolchildren’s art.
The level of The Mill’s success has involved thousands of hours of volunteer work, resulting in four of the original team of trustees being nominated for a Team London award. Mo Gallaccio, Alison Griffin, Ingrid Abreu Scherer and Ruth Duncan were all invited to City Hall for an evening of recognition and celebration with the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, plus entrepreneurs Wayne Hemingway and Thomasina Miers.
While the team didn’t pick up the winner’s award, they were immensely proud to be credited as a runner-up, making the Waltham Forest foursome one of the top four volunteer groups across London.
“When we first got the keys four years ago it was dismal,” recalls Mo.
“A group of young architects and designers lived upstairs in terrible squalor, planning the new building.
“They went down the road to use friends’ showers and I’d bring around pots of spaghetti.
“Then they showed us their ideas and it looked great.And that’s been the foundation of The Mill ever since – people have suggested things and we’ve said yes.
“We’re now working towards our fifth birthday next September,” Mo adds.
“It’s extraordinary we’ve managed to keep going – so many people said it wouldn’t work.
“But we have fantastic support. It’s run by the community, for the community – it’s their place.”
by Jo Bounds