Charmaine Clarke, 41, lives on the Vanguard Estate in Lewisham with her two children.
In September 2012 she became chair of the Leander community centre’s management committee.
"I've lived here for seven years and I got involved with the community centre from the start. It’s right at the heart of the estate, in more ways than one. When one of Peabody’s community development workers asked me at a pampering day whether I’d be interested in joining the committee, I thought I’d give it a go.
"Since becoming chair it's taken over my life – in a good way. Leander is my second home! There are four of us on the committee and we’re a really strong team. We’re very focused on what we want to do. We organise all kinds of activities, and we plough any money we make back into the community centre. I love organising! We had funding from Activate London which helped us start a lot of the classes, but they’ll eventually become self-sustaining. We promote the classes by handing out fliers and putting them through people’s doors.
"On three days of the week we run keep fit classes such as Caribbean dancing, pilates, and zumba; we have a youth club on Tuesdays and Fridays, and on one day a week we run an arts and crafts club for older people. There’s a sheltered housing block attached to the community centre so it’s easy for the residents to come here to socialise. I want to organise more activities for young people, such as after-school homework classes and a Saturday school.
"A company that runs courses in childcare and health and social care rents a room for four days a week, and the Starlight Music Academy, which runs music and dance activities for young people, will soon be renting a space here.
"I've had lots of training through Peabody, including health and safety and first aid, and I’ll soon be going on a computer course and a fundraising course.
"Having a lively, well-used community centre definitely makes for a stronger community. I used to be a social worker but I hadn’t worked for a while before becoming chair and my confidence has soared. I’m back out in the world and I love it! It's so exciting."