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Interviews, Focus Groups, Observed Activity

Taking the time


Taking time to get to know people, meeting them where they are (literally in the spaces where they naturally convene) and when possible, meeting them more than once opened up the capacity for getting a more detailed picture of people, places, community needs and relationships to art. Opportunities for multiple interaction and conversation were facilitated by:


  • Coffee mornings

  • Trustee and staff meetings

  • Talks/events/regular activities held by local organisations

“… first we have the order of the spoken words. This should give us a duality in the conversation, a certain relaxation, a result of losing seriousness in thinking while talking.” (Friere, 1990: 4)



I spoke with staff and trustees across the charity, leaders and beneficiaries attached to the local organisations they support, and a number of other people I met along the way, including librarians, police officers and pastors.

Walking the Road

Walking the roads connected me to an understanding of the proximity between organisations and an experiential view of all the places that shape communities in between: cafes, markets, green spaces, shops, graffitied walls, cultural centres, housing estates, etc.

Evolving the Inquiry


While I always met people with a list of questions these questions inevitably shifted, and evolved as different voices, stories, and perspectives revealed new pathways for inquiry.



  • Tim Hughes, Chief Executive & Clerk to the Trustees

  • Melanie Nock, Head of Community & Partnerships

  • Rita Nath-Dongre, Head of House & Property

  • Nora Laraki, Administrator; Projects & Events

  • Jill Hampson, Scheme manager for John Betts House

  • Cathy Lehane, Scheme manager for Sycamore House

  • Jackie Thompson, Community Gardener

  • Eniyal Sahadevan, Finance Officer

  • Stuart Sessions, Former Chief Executive

Community Leaders

  • Nicholai LaBarrie, Director of Young People & Emerging Artists,  Lyric Hammersmith*

  • Petrea Owens, Chair, Hammersmith and Fulham Arts Fest*

  • Finn Woodhill, Big Local Marketing and Communications Coordinator, White City Estate*

  • Liban Muse, The Lido Foundation*

  • Sagal Osman, Good Effort for Health and Well Being*

  • Adam Matan, Anti-Tribalism Movement*

  • Amanda Castro , Community Producer The Bush Theatre*

  • Liban Muse, Director Lido Foundation*

  • Adam Matan, Managing Director Anti-Tribalism Movement*

  • Trea Owen, H&F Arts Fest*

  • Helen Rowe, Project manager, Community Champions Edward Woods Estate*

  • Charlotte Cunningham, Artistic Director Turtle Key Arts

  • Thomas Dodd, Arts Development Officer, London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham

  • Andy Fearn, Cinzia D’Ambrosi, Protection Approaches “Prejudice and Us” project*

  • Police Constable David Williams

  • Police Sergeant Sonja Morris

  • Jane Bushell, Team leader, Askew Road Library

  • Keith Berry, Pastor Hammersmith Christian Fellowship

  • Mike Dessington, Team Leader White City Adventure Playground*

  • Aida Silvestre, local artist*

* funded by HUC


  • Mike Smith, Chair of the Trustees, background in finance, member since 2007

  • John Little, background in HR, finance and engineering, member since 2005

  • Julian Hillman, VIce Chair of Trustees, background in social work, member since 2002

  • Sam Deards, Chair of Grants committee, member since 2014

  • Chris Hammond, former trustee, inaugural Grants committee chair

Focus Groups


  • Elder Residents housed at Sycamore and John Betts House- they are the primary, long-standing group of beneficiaries that are housed by the charity. Additionally, since the grants program was initiated there has been some tension between what the charity is doing for them versus what the charity is now developing for the borough at large. I spoke with approximately 15 residents at each house during their weekly coffee morning.

  • Edward Woods Estate residents- 10 women of varying ages (some with small children present) who are part of the HUC funded  Community Champions program at Edward Woods estate were present. I chose to lead a focus group with them to get an alternative social housing scheme constituency perspective.  

  • Somali men and women from HUC supported organisations Anti-Tribalism Movement, The Lido Foundation and Good Effort for Health and Well-being. These organisations largely provide domestic, language and health services for this population, but the charity is curious to develop arts initiatives and until now has felt hesitant about the cultural appropriateness of such engagement. I spoke with approximately 10 men and women.


  • Hammersmith United Charities’ Board of Trustees and Staff- 20 members of board and staff were in attendance at the annual board dinner. I wanted the voice of benefactors as well as beneficiaries so that a picture of value could be drawn across class and culture.

* In synthesizing findings from all of these interviews and focus groups, I recognize there is a gap in representation from younger people and from artists. I will be holding additional focus groups sessions with these groups this fall and will add in data accordingly.

Observed Artistic Activity

(funded by HUC)


  • "Prejudice and Us"
    Protection Approaches, a violence prevention organization, and Cinzia D’Ambrosi, a photojournalist, spent the last year engaging several youth groups in the area. Through photography, drama activities and writing, the young people expressed the prejudice they feel and see around them. An exhibition showcasing the work took place at City Hall last November where the young people had a chance to present/reflect on the program with youth club leaders, local MP Andy Slaughter and members of the police.


  • Flying Gorillas 
    This dance company leads several community dance projects with a variety of groups from elder Afro-Carribeans at the Pepperpot Day Centre, to Syrian refugees to young children on the Edward Woods Estate. They often work to bring these different groups together, as well as working with them separately.


  • Bolder, not Older
    Every Wednesday morning professional dance company, ‘Dance West’, leads dance classes at Sycamore House for residents at both housing schemes. Approximately 15 residents attend regularly.


  • White City Youth Theatre
    They provide weekly training in drama to build confidence and exposure to theatre for young people from diverse backgrounds who wouldn’t otherwise have such access. I observed a rehearsal and have attended two productions.


  • Lyric Hammersmith Evolution Festival
    This 4-day festival in March was produced by and for young people. Amongst many performances, talks and films, it featured an acclaimed Edinburgh solo show by a young man with autism, a theatre piece about homelessness created and performed by young people not in education or employment and a music piece created and performed by young Muslim women about the trials and tribulations of their identity in West London.


  • HUC Film Festival
    In September 2016, HUC hosted Hammersmith’s first community film festival in the new cinema at The Lyric. 25 films by and about the local communities were screened with awards presented by the Mayor of Hammersmith.


  • Rainbow Collective Documentary Film training- 
    In January 2017, HUC brought in the film production company, Rainbow Collective, to offer a free film training workshop day for community leaders supported by the charity. Approximately 15 people attended, and gained skills to help improve the quality of the films they make to document the process of their work

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