Local job hunters tap away on rows of free-to-use PCs out front. Marie, a volunteer who has been living in Euston for 25 years sits on reception, while John, the in-house caretaker (another volunteer) darts around, lugging furniture from room to room, photocopying and wise-cracking.
This is a typical Tuesday scene in the West Euston Partnership (WEP)’s central office. Located on the Hampstead Road, the organisation is currently responsible for multiple local schemes including offering employment support, providing bikes for disabled people in Regent’s Park, running yoga classes, maintaining a community choir and hosting free study support sessions with volunteer tutors.
The activities are carried out with the aim of improving people’s health, employment opportunities and encouraging their involvement in community life.
The partnership has been working for this community for 25 years. “It was originally set up by locals,” says Sharon, WEP’s director, “who were fed up with the street fighting, racial tension, wealth inequality and lack of opportunities in the area.”
Although not a local herself, Sharon has been working here for five years. Her team, which consists of four permanent staff and around 60 volunteers, is driven by a desire to contribute to the continued improvement of the area by propagating the well-being of all residents.“For me the most enjoyable part of my job is the tangible results I see,” says Sharon. “We are a charity and we can’t do everything, we are inhibited, like everyone else in this sector – by the need to chase funding as cuts are rife.”
“Despite this, it is the small wins that make this such a rewarding and enjoyable place to be,” she says. “Be it seeing someone’s health improve because they go to our free yoga classes, be it because they are disabled and have ridden a bike for the first time or because someone has learnt to use a computer or sent off their first CV.”
Hundreds of people from various backgrounds use the services offered by WEP. The organisation therefore attempts to stay as open as possible in order to to move with the needs of the community.
“If there is a need that we can fulfil, we will do it; if not, we will refer the individual to another organisation, community centre or partner in the vicinity who can do the job,” says Sharon.