I’ve been really disappointed by media reports about Pembury estate in Hackney.
In wild accounts that have flashed across twitter and in articles (such as this one), the impression has been created of an estate that has been destroyed, ‘a desolate wasteland’, where it will take years and millions of pounds to repair the damage, not just to the estate itself but to the Pembury community.
This simply isn’t true – and it can only add to the negative impact of the rioting and looting across London that has shocked us all.
I visited Pembury estate this morning.
Despite the dramatic reports, it actually suffered very little damage. There was minor damage to our estate office, a communal entry door and staircase, but none to our residents’ homes and community buildings. The estate is clean and tidy, our estate office and learning centre are open, and our caretakers are out and about.
So, physically Pembury is fine. The extensive regeneration work we have carried out over the last ten years, including the solar panels installed in recent weeks, has not been smashed or set on fire by rioters. And our plans to add more homes and community amenities in the near future are still set to go ahead.
But what about the impact of the rioting in the Pembury community? Like communities all over London and the country they are very upset. But on top of that, they are dismayed by the way they and Pembury estate have been portrayed in the media.
I was moved by the amazing spirit of the residents I met. They are absolutely determined to help this area get back on its feet. Many of them had helped in the Hackney clean-up on Tuesday, and there was a big queue of people outside our learning centre when I arrived, all keen to make use of the training and learning facilities.
We are working to reassure residents and we are making contact with those who may need a helping hand over the new few days or weeks. We will continue to support groups that are planning activities over the next fortnight. And we will continue to offer services for young people – like Threads, our fashion design project for girls who are at risk of gangs – and for older people.
Life will get back to normal here and Pembury will continue to grow stronger as a community. Don't believe me? Come down and see for yourself.
More Stephen Howlett blogs