More support for local communities as charity selected to occupy Council building
A charity which advocates on behalf of African and Afro-Caribbean people has been selected as the new tenant of a Hackney Council-owned building prioritised for Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations, which benefit from discounted rent and favourable lease conditions.
The African Development and Advocacy Centre (AFRIDAC) works to campaign and advocate on behalf of African and Afro-Caribbean communities across the UK and best demonstrated to the Council how it will provide important services for Hackney residents, after an open and competitive process to occupy the Council-owned space on Lower Clapton Road.
Open for seven days a week, AFRIDAC will offer a range of community services from the building, providing benefits, housing and immigration advice, talks on sexual health, mental health services, cultural activities, training sessions, food collection, yoga and fitness classes and more.
Since its establishment as a not-for-profit organisation in 2009, the charity - which previously operated from a Turkish and Kurdish community centre in Dalston - has been a part of a growing advocacy against racial inequality in the UK. It focuses on areas such as immigration and housing policies that disproportionately affect documented and undocumented migrants from African and Afro-Caribbean backgrounds.
Supported through grants from Hackney Council, Hackney Giving, City and Hackney CCG and collaborative work with Hackney CVS, Open Minds Alliance and Community African Network, the charity provides advocacy workshops to address poverty and inequality, mental health services for young people and African men through African Men Safe Space, and has worked to increase vaccine uptake and share information about Covid-19.
We are pleased to have a community space where we can engage and support more Hackney residents in advocating for issues that disproportionately affect them. Members of this community in London have experienced years of systemic and institutional racism, marginalisation, inequalities at different levels and endemic poverty. This space will help AFRIDAC provide a platform and voice for the African community by influencing social change through community collaboration, policy engagement and capacity building.
There was a high level of interest in the building and several charitable organisations were shortlisted and interviewed to occupy the space. Local organisation Hackney CVS helped to market the building and sat on the selection panel, with unsuccessful bidders given support and feedback following the interview process.
The Council’s selection of AFRIDAC to occupy the space is the latest action to fulfil a commitment to provide more services for Black and ethnic minority residents in Hackney. The Council leases out up to 50 properties to VCS organisations.
There are many charitable organisations in Hackney providing vital services for residents and we are proud to support a large number of these through our lettings policy, which offers favourable lease conditions on up to 50 Council-owned buildings in every part of the borough.
The Council is committed to being an active anti-racist organisation and we celebrate the fact that Hackney is one of the most diverse places in the country. However, we also know that these are difficult times, with increasingly hostile immigration policies from central government and a disproportionate number of people from Black and Global Majority backgrounds facing financial hardship and difficult living conditions.
AFRIDAC is an important new tenant and while there is much to be done in the fight for equality, offering such a brilliant advocacy organisation use of one of our buildings will place them at the heart of the community and will help improve the lives of people who are a prominent and much-valued part of Hackney.