Tenants show off their stunning new homes

Councillor Saima Ashraf, the Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement, met two very happy Becontree Heath residents this week.

She popped in to visit Kyle Belshaw and Omolola Fashedemi who moved into recently built homes in Althorne Way in Dagenham to see how they were enjoying their new homes six months on. 

Both Kyle and Omolola’s homes were part of the development at Trinity South in Becontree Heath involving 170 homes built by Countryside, including 87 affordable homes for shared ownership and London Affordable Rent (equivalent to Council rents) for the Council’s housing arm, Reside.  The stunning new homes were let last year but Covid-19 restrictions prevented the councillors from visiting the properties until now.

Kyle said: “It was great to host Cllr Ashraf and it was so nice of her to pay a visit. I love my new home and it’s been a fantastic boost for me and my family.”

Omolola said: “It’s wonderful Saima paid a visit. My new home is lovely and I am sure I will enjoy many happy years here!”

Councillor Saima Ashraf said: “It was great to meet Kyle and Omolola at last, and I am so glad to see they have settled in so well.

“I can honestly say I was impressed with the quality of these new homes, which is so important, because these are the first of many hundreds of great new homes that Be First will be delivering for the Council over the next few years for local people at rents they can afford.”


On your bike!

No, not an insult but a programme or free activities to encourage cycling, and to mark cycle to work day. 

Now that the weather’s (a bit) better, we’re delighted to team up with Vandome Cycles and Barking and Dagenham Council to offer free bike checks and training, to children and adults, whether you’re an absolute beginner or an Olympic-inspired racer.

So, this might just be the time to dust off your old bike and get in the saddle.

Funmi Atolagbe, Travel Plan Coordinator at Be First, explains: “Cycling really helps to reduce congestion and in a flat borough like Barking and Dagenham, it’s a really practical way of getting around. It goes without saying that it’s healthy and good for the environment, but it’s also great fun”.

Be First planner, Anna Gibbs, took an improvers course, and said: “I definitely felt like I needed a refresher course to build my confidence to be able to cycle to the office. My training course from Richard at Vandome Cycles was brilliant and I highly recommend it to anyone whether you’re a beginning or want to improve your road skills.”

Vandome Cycling Instructor, Richard Jordan, said: “We teach people at any age and any ability and we offer all the equipment – helmets, bikes, anything you need if you haven’t got your own – and it’s all free.”

We are also working with the Greening the Fiddlers project to offer training and led rides to people that live or work in the Becontree Heath area.

Find out more about what we have to offer by following our series of videos or head straight to the cycling-in-the-borough website.

Big fun at pocket park launch

More than 150 people helped to celebrate the opening of Phoenix Park in the Gascoigne neighbourhood of Barking on Saturday.

The event featured a host of activities including table tennis, a children’s drawing competition and giant chess.

Local councillors, both Deputy Leaders, Cllr Dominic Twomey, Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance and Core Services and Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, Cllr Saima Ashraf, took part in the celebration which brought together community organisations from around the area.

Cllr Ashraf said: “It was such a great day and so good to see everyone having fun. The new Phoenix Park is fabulous but it’s no wonder because it’s been designed by the community, for the community and you can see they’ve put their heart and soul into it.”

Local resident and Gascoigne Residents’ Forum member, Kenneth Soko, said: “Having lived on the Gascoigne Estate for over 10 years and now being a member of the residents forum, I am sure my fellow members would agree with me that it is an honour to have been part of the co-design of Phoenix Park. I am thankful for Be First for engaging the community. This park is truly the people’s park.”

Sadia Ur-Rehman, Community Engagement Co-ordinator at Be First, said: “The amount of love and hard work put into making this park a great place has been breath-taking. Be First is proud to be a part of it but without the passion from local residents, the area would not have such a wonderful park.”

The park, which was built by Wates Residential, was designed around four themes identified by local residents; exercise, play, growing and contemplation. These are brought together at the heart through a stage, which can be used for gatherings, events, communal dining, games and more.

The park includes: a natural play area, a gym corner, a seating and stage area for a space to relax in, a garden area, a large feasting table and a growing plot. Access is via Abbey Road, Barking and the park is open 7am-9pm.