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Empowering change in my neighbourhood

Welcome to our new blog!

Every Wednesday in September we invite you behind the scenes of our work on Humans of Hilgrove, our residents-led arts exhibition on the Hilgrove Estate in Camden.

Hilgrove Resident and Community Organiser, Kaamila, will share her experience of living on the estate and being a part of the community action taking place.

See life on Hilgrove through her eyes as she tells us in her own words about growing up on the estate and working with North Camden Zone.

The possibilities for positive change are limitless when people work together. I wanted to become a community organiser to empower people from underrepresented groups, so that we increase their influence and impact on the policies and decisions affecting their lives. I hope our work can create positive change through using the voices of Hilgrove residents.

Hilgrove estate hasn't had any community engagement schemes in the past, therefore we did not have many contacts or template to work from. This process was fairly new to everyone involved. And as a result of the pandemic, it has forced us to do things differently, for instance, have our weekly meetings over Zoom.

We decided as a group to put together an arts exhibition featuring residents of the estate for our first project. We decided to call it Humans of Hilgrove. Working in a photo exhibition, in the midst of a global pandemic happens to be super challenging, people are reluctant to leave their houses and as community organisers, we have to work under strict COVID prevention guidelines. Currently, we are trying to figure out how to launch a socially distanced/ COVID friendly launch party. Not an easy thing with the new restrictions.

The toughest part of the job is getting community involvement. Getting people involved when they've lost hope isn't an easy task, but it's an important one. On our first round of recruitment knocking on doors, we had a mix of responses, the majority of people seemed unbothered, some people were straight-up rude and a few seemed genuinely interested.

Personally, not too fond of recruitment, but it's a critical part of the job and I've learned so much in the process.

As a recruiter, I eventually discovered that I would have to deal with rejection if I wanted to be successful. This lesson definitely applies to all aspects of life- we will all experience rejection in our relationships, careers, educational opportunities and everything in between. Recruitment has taught me how to deal with rejection, build on it, and move past it until I find myself in a better situation.

Being the youngest of the group, and having lived the majority of my life having decisions made for me or being told what to do, it felt super weird having people value my opinion and ideas. For example, other Community organisers asking my opinion on certain topics such as how the display boards for the exhibition should look.

I enjoy working with people who are so much more experienced than me. It sometimes feels like everyone on the team has found their niche already, and I'm still trying to find ways to be useful. It's not that I don't consider myself a vital member of the team, but when I'm surrounded by people who are far ahead, I feel like I can't keep up. There are certainly days when I feel like an imposter.

But I also have the pleasure of working with amazing people that have an incredible skills set. Working on your own can be a lonely experience, and one that has you wondering if you're doing a good job but having the support of my team does a ton for my confidence.

I'm proud of the work we've done on Humans of Hilgrove and how we've worked together as a team. Next week I'll chat a bit more about organising the event as we begin to countdown to the launch of the exhibition next month.

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