I've known Waltham Forest for most of my life. I've lived in Chingford, Leyton, Walthamstow and have spent much time in Leytonstone.
I've witnessed the change in parts of Waltham Forest first-hand, seeing areas considered gangland central transformed into spaces for coffee-drinking laptop holders and their tiny dogs who leave their markings all over the pavements! Who would have thought at my age I still have to play the game of hopscotch :D
Still, I'm an advocate for change, as I understand that change is inevitable, it's a necessary process to growth, similar to how a baby grows into an adult.
But without a doubt, the borough is divided, between the haves and the have not's. One side can crowdfund £100,000 for solar panels for owned houses, while the other struggles to heat the home they rent.
Recently I was talking with a friend about some of the recent stabbings in Waltham Forest, and I was again reminded of just how small the world is. What do they say, it's 6 steps of separation between one person and the next. I'm not sure but what I do know is that things like death not only affect the immediate family but also the community associated with the person.
This brings me back to my thoughts when I say the borough is divided, as the newcomers to the borough may never know the devastation of losing a loved one to violence, though the old community does.
The changes in Waltham Forest are clear to see, as now there is a thriving creative community that brings all kinds of interest and intrigue to the borough. But sometimes I wonder how much more the borough could be if there wasn't such a divide. Maybe those new to the borough with their fresh opportunities would find a willing pool of local creatives who may only need training and the chance.
I saw firsthand through Red Light Busking hiring young people from the social care community and watched how these same young people flourished during their time with us.
In Waltham Forest right now some organisations are trailblazers in what they do. Though I wonder how different the borough would be if these organisations made available more opportunities to both divides of the community. Maybe there are fewer stabbings, maybe people don't struggle so much, or maybe it creates a thriving creative scene.
Unfortunately, I don't have the answers. But what I do understand is the african proverb of 'The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth'
If this interests you, have a read of the excerpt from my short story A Woman's Touch Softens The Hard Hands of a Badman as it shows just where things tend to go when society is extremely imbalanced.