27 May 2016
On Saturday 21st May QMUL took over Stepney Green Park in Mile End to host the first Festival of Communities Fun-Day with a range of community partners and Tower Hamlets Council. The day saw around 1,500 people visit amusements, makers markets, Queen Mary Student Union (QMSU) Community Sports and stalls featuring Queen Mary University of London’s (QMUL) research and community groups.
Based on the festival themes of living and learning in Tower Hamlets, the day looked to bring residents from the local area together and to showcase the great things that happen in the borough and how more people can access services and get involved.
Many residents from Tower Hamlets and the surrounding area were amongst the crowds that came to experience current QMUL research, such as state-of-the-art x-ray techniques from the School of Dentistry, interactive science activities by science education centre Centre of the Cell and a full size T Rex skull from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.
Other stalls and areas gave people the chance to sit and chat with the Salvation Army and to learn about services from local groups such as Money A+E’s personal finance support and the Stifford Centre’s employment, legal and wellbeing programmes, as well as play on arcades and inflatables for big and little kids.
Activities in the main festival tent looked to capture and explore the experiences of east London from local people and their own definitions of community. Eleanor Beer, a graphic facilitator, was on hand to turn thoughts into a beautiful graphic that captured the discussions she had throughout the day, which focussed on the quality of services in the area and the support of communities.
Child Migrant Stories is a project bringing together the experiences of people who migrated to London as children, capturing their thoughts through video, written word and images. Throughout the day they were collecting people’s thoughts of east London, finding an overwhelmingly positive response, such as Abdul, who came to London from Bangladesh at the age of 10, saying of east London ‘so diverse, so dynamic’.
This was matched with common feelings that East Enders were, ‘friendly, welcoming and nice neighbours’ and the ‘East End community is more friendly and supportive’.
The Child Migrant Stories project also asked about the current migrant crisis in Europe and what local residents thought about the UK accepting 3,000 unaccompanied migrant children from Europe, to which they rose to the challenge, demonstrating the generosity and inclusivity of Tower Hamlets in their willingness and enthusiasm to support others. You can read about their full experience of the day on their blog post here.
It wasn’t all about reflection though, with lions, tigers and superheroes taking to the sports pitches and flying high on bouncy castles and trampolines thanks to our face painters and their excited queues of children waiting to be transformed… as well as plenty of adults getting competitive over the coconut shy and hoop toss in the games arcade!
We thank everyone who came along to the Festival Fun-Day, which marked the official launch of the two-week Tower Hamlets Festival of Communities. The festival now features a wide range of fringe events, including walking tours, workshops and exhibitions before culminating on Saturday 4th June in a QMUL Campus Festival Day, bringing residents of Tower Hamlets onto QMUL’s Mile End campus for a wide range of events, stalls and activities!
The Fun-Day on Saturday 21st May was captured by our festival photographer Jonathan Cole Photography, with all the images from the day available on our Flickr account to view and download.