£5 million refurbishment for community centre on UK’s biggest council estate

The UK’s biggest council estates is set to receive £5 million to refurbish a community centre at its heart.

Kingsley Hall church and community centre on the famous Becontree Estate in Barking and Dagenham has raised over £5 million for a major new expansion.

Founded in 1929, Kingley Hall has served the local community for 92 years, and has delivered food parcels throughout the area since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its director told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the centre “provides a range of support, particularly for people from a background of disadvantage.”

Becontree Estate, the largest council estate in Britain, will celebrate its centenary in November

26,000 homes were built in 1921 to replace slum housing in London, giving residents access to running water and indoor toilets, often for the first time.

Over 100,000 people are estimated to live within four square miles of Becontree Estate.

Kingsley Hall’s redevelopment will include spaces for eating and socialising, exercise studios, and gardens.

The church and community centre is asking for donations from the public to help complete the project, having already gained most of its funding from larger donors.

Director of Kingley Hall, Chris Kapnisis, said that he wanted nearby residents to be “stakeholders” in the expansion.

He said that the centre: “Provides a range of support, particularly for people from a background of disadvantage and disability. 

He added that it offers: “Services for children and young people, youth work – tackling youth violence and gang culture. 

“We have a ‘social supermarket’ which is a variation on the food bank: providing free food, and social support for all local people, people experiencing poverty, particularly from the impact of the pandemic.”

Chris Kapnisis added that the new centre would include a number of activities and creative spaces, and that he hoped it would produce: “civic pride for local people and uplift the area.”

He also said that although Kingsley Hall has already raised over £5 million for the expansion, they are still looking for contributions from the public.

He said: “The public appeal will enable us to complete the work with fixtures, fittings, interior design, improving disability access, and also so that we can continue to run vital services.

“We really appreciate every donation – £10, £20, whatever the amount is.

“That really is giving it back to the local community, saying we can all be stakeholders together.”

Kingsley Hall is raising money for its redevelopment on its JustGiving page.

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Alastair Lockhart

Local Democracy Reporter