Anisha was sponsored by Be First and will study architecture at Central Saint Martins

A young Barking and Dagenham resident, Anisha Shibly, sponsored by Be First, the regeneration arm of Barking and Dagenham Council, has been accepted for a bursary to study architecture at Central Saint Martin’s University of the Arts London via The London Neighbourhood Scholarship Trust (LNS).

LNS is a registered charity that aims to promote a more socially aware and diverse built environment in London through investment in architectural education. The charity tackles the architecture profession’s lack of diversity by awarding £15,000 architecture bursaries – £5,000 per year of study – to disadvantaged young people from London’s neighbourhoods to help them cover any costs not related to tuition fees or accommodation.

Be First became a Neighbourhood Partner of the LNS in 2023 to support and mentor Anisha – the company provided two-thirds (£10,000) of the bursary, with the remaining third (£5,000) sourced through social value contributions from architecture firms Be first works with. These bursaries ease the financial burden on prospective students and their families while supporting future architects to realise their talent and achieve a career in architecture.

Anisha grew up with a passion for being creative and making sculptures, and this turned into a love of architecture through a poignant personal experience. Anisha’s father passed away when she was a teenager, and to commemorate him, Anisha’s grandfather designed a community mosque. Anisha developed an appreciation for creatively designing spaces that don’t simply serve practical purposes but carry a deeper, emotional resonance for people who interact with them.

When she moved into Sixth Form / College, Anisha was accepted onto the Open City Accelerate programme – Be First also sponsored Anisha through this initiative and continues to sponsor the programme – which solidified her passion for architecture as she learnt skills like technical drawing, model making and gaining work experience in an architecture firm.

Anisha has always had a strong interest in communities – she was also part of the Barking and Dagenham youth forum which helped shape her aspirations to study architecture. The forum provided Anisha with opportunities to work alongside local youth, engage with politicians about what local communities need, and collaborating with different people to find creative solutions to improve their local environments.

Anisha Shibly said: “I’m honoured to be accepted onto the London Neighbourhood Scholarship Trust scheme. This will allow for my architectural journey to gain wings, turning my aspirations of becoming an architect into a reality through an amazing support system. Incorporating sustainability into architecture is a focal point of mine as the climate crisis already is and will continue to impact the architecture profession.

“I look forward to learning different skills throughout my course, as well as how to channel my creativity into designing places that benefit local communities.”

Amandeep Singh Kalra, Associate Director of Place & Design at Be First, said: “This is exactly the type of initiative that you can’t help but smile at – it’s been an absolute delight working with Anisha to help her realise her dream of studying architecture. Her aspirations of improving the lives of local communities is what Be First is all about, so her passion resonates with our mission.

“Everyone at Be First is incredibly proud of Anisha and we look forward to mentoring her through the next 3 years and seeing how her study progresses.”

Sally Lewis, Founder of LNS, said:

“On behalf of the LNS, I want to extend a huge congratulations to Anisha and our other scholars for 2023 – we’ve been able to select 3 young scholars this year who will all receive funding, mentoring and work experience opportunities over their 3-year architecture degree.

“I’d also like to thank Be First for becoming a Neighbourhood Partner in 2023 – this partnership helps us continue our work promoting a more socially aware and diverse built environment in London.”