Tag Archives: Salvation Army

Poplar: From East India Dock Road to St Paul’s Way

Another walk through Poplar, away from the more historic High Street, beginning with East India Docks Rd and heading to St Paul’s Way. I love this village, suburb, piece of London though it is new to me. Turning right on Kerbey Street I passed the Salvation Army Hall (and the Salvation Army has been a fixture of East End life since it’s beginnings 150 years ago) and this pretty awesome ‘selfie post’:


The view to the south:


It saddens me, that everywhere Canary Wharf looms over you.

Makes me happy that there is still so much council housing, though how much is ‘genuinely affordable’ social housing I do not know. I still feel we know more now, can design better housing and community now, but I will defend this to the last until that commitment is made, is built.


Still, it is a relief to come to the open piece of green that is Bartlett Park after so much concrete — even though it is railed in — to find boys playing cricket and football fields and one last building left from earlier days covered over with vines (and seriously un-photogenic due to the street works taking place, so in possible violation of the dérive principle, it does not feature here).


But I wondered at the multi-storey towers, they appeared to be that cheap brand of luxury housing mushrooming along the rivers and canals so I couldn’t understand what they were doing there in all of their massive garishness and glass:


I shortly arrived here, and all of my wonderings were answered — I hadn’t realised I was approaching the Limehouse Cut. I get a little fucking angry, though, that these buildings should cut through and haughtily rise above our neighbourhoods, transforming the feel of the canals I love without providing the housing we so desperately need.


It is the shoddy arrogance of today’s wealth staring down in comfort, a sneer at inequality written across the horizon.

Despite this, the canal still has some of its old magic, in the form of old warehouses in brick and personal expression spray-painted across its walls:


Remnants of the past still linger on, making you positively nostalgic and I don’t want to be nostalgic. I want to look forward to our future and a better world, rather than back.


In spite of everything, a vibrant diversity still clings on to life here.


I got nostalgic again leaving this old brick for this shiny new school:


Researching its shininess further I found this from their website:

A major new programme to help children learn enterprise and employability skills will be launched at St Paul’s Way Trust School in January 2015.

A very generous grant from J P Morgan to the school, in association with St Paul’s Way Community Interest Company, will support students to develop their own business ideas, and turn their plans into real community enterprises. The grant will also support the school to develop a more comprehensive work experience programme, meaning that every student will have opportunities to learn about work which is tailored to their hopes for the future.

It chills me that they are offering a life geared towards work to our children, rather than inspiration and creativity to encourage a curiosity about our world and the knowledge of how to explore it in ways unlimited by the need to profit.


Obviously Canary Wharf looms over people’s lives in more ways than one.


Their estates that are being decanted.


Their churches and community centres:


I had begun this walk with the intention of finding Paper & Cup‘s St Paul’s Way Centre cafe, but realised I didn’t have time to stop, so I completed the loop back down to the Westferry DLR. It was nice to see Mile End Park, but it lies on the other side of the massive Burdett Road full of traffic and fumes, scary to cross.

I walked back down it, but didn’t have much heart for pictures. Only this little park full of crocuses and snowdrops and a lost section of row housing that reminds you that you are human:


Soon there will be daffodils.


Salvation Army Simulates Poverty

If you would like to watch me turn from a well-balanced happy woman to a glass-shatterer and purity of spitting rage, you really just have to mention simulating poverty…

It is a primal sort of reaction. Even so, a piece of my mind can stand apart from that and see some benefit to it I suppose, after all the gap between those with wealth and those with none is so extreme. People with even middling incomes take so much for granted, there is so much they don’t know about survival on even minimum wage, I suppose a taste of reality is better then none at all? The obvious answer is yes, but only if they acknowledge the limits, do not presume that a week long exercise can bestow upon them anything but a glimmer of what is truly lived by those in poverty. They have to acknowledge that simulation is impossible.

Poverty is a constant weight, it is constant worry, it is constant struggle. It is an absence of choices; with the weight, worry, and struggle stretching forever into the future. It is a blinding lack of safety nets, and no one to rescue you when you fall. It is you financially supporting your parents rather than relying on them for support. It is a heavy responsibility for others. It is knowing that this responsibility carries more needs then you can provide for. It is a daily battle, a daily fear for the roof over your head, the food in the refrigerator, your transportation to work. It is breaking your body and swallowing insults to keep a paycheck. It is always being talked down to, disrespected, seen as less. It is the feeling that you are less. You cannot experience it for a day, or even a year, because it is the feeling of being trapped, the feeling you get when you have tried and been carved down to the bone in your failure. It is knowing you cannot get out. There’s no point in looking ahead, day by day is the only possible way to survive it. Poverty carves itself into your face in deep jagged lines, and makes you old before your time.

Poverty is hopelessness, converted into apathy or rage. Until you fight back; only then does it become a strength. But most simply fight each other, fight over the scraps they are allowed. I will never deny that the extraordinary and the lucky make it out of poverty, my point is that they should not be the only ones. But with classes of 40 in schools that are falling down and don’t even offer the minimum courses required to enter a 4 year college, with an absence of preventative health care, with high rents for overcrowded slum housing that slowly kills its inhabitants with lead poisoning and asthma, with racism and racial profiling channeling more and more youth into the prison system, with communities from which all decent paying jobs and hope for the future have long since fled…these are all systemic barriers of dizzying magnitude.

You can give people, very humbly, some idea of what is required of the poor to survive. I support that. You cannot simulate for the rich what it is like to live in poverty, there is such an arrogance in the very idea of that. And a danger too, when people believe they understand something that they do not…

also published at http://www.allvoices.com/users/Andrea#tab=blogs&group=2