The Granville, a much-loved community building in the heart of South Kilburn, is currently undergoing refurbishment, due to re-open in spring 2018. The Granville will offer community space, workspace, and a café and garden, all open to local people.
At the centre of the drive to bring The Granville back to its full life and open to all local residents, is the South Kilburn Trust, led by its Chief Executive, Mark Allan.
Mark speaks here about the reasons why the Trust is focusing all its energies and resources into making The Granville a huge success. He also shares with us how central the community is to this.
What does being the Chief Executive of the South Kilburn Trust involve?
I am responsible for day to day running of the Trust, and also for planning what we do in the future. I work alongside our board of Trustees, who are a mix people including local residents, and I make the long-term decisions with them. Our main focus is to support people living in South Kilburn, including helping people back into work, helping people start up a new business, and various community activities and events. This year we are also focused on renovating and re-opening The Granville in order to create a multi-purpose space for people of South Kilburn.
Why The Granville?
The idea of using The Granville started with the idea of having a multi-purpose space for the community. We knew there was funding available to do this so we had numerous conversations about possible spaces in South Kilburn, and in the end Brent Council suggested The Granville, which seemed an obvious choice is it was under-used and in much need of repair. Plus many local people knew it as their community centre, so it became even more of an obvious choice.
How did the plans become a reality?
Well, following the decision by Brent Council to use The Granville, we knew that the Mayor of London has a big focus on making sure there is enough quality workspace for small organisations and businesses in London and has made funding available for organisations who want to create these spaces. And we knew the South Kilburn Studios was closing next year, as part of the planned redevelopment of Peel, so this meant we could get funding to continue the Studios, in part of The Granville.
What is your overall goal with The Granville?
We want there to be a space at the heart of South Kilburn where people can come together and use for a wide range of activities and events, both now and in the future. A space for local people to use and run community events and projects, as well as a space for local residents to set up and grow a business, that gives themselves an income and creates local jobs.
And remember, The Granville is not the South Kilburn Trust’s building. We are based in the building, and we will run it, however The Granville is a partnership, including with Brent Council who own the building, and with the community who will use it and be based in it.
Why is having a space like The Granville important?
I grew up on a council estate in Scotland. Being part of the wider community was really important in my family feeling connected and to this day it is still important for me to be a part of a community. In the past when I’ve needed help I’ve found that if there’s somewhere for me to go to, a place that I’m welcomed with different services or where I can volunteer and make a difference, it’s really helped me.
People in South Kilburn have things that they want to do, things that they want to achieve in their lives; in their personal life, work life, and for their families. So I hope The Granville can be an important part of people’s lives.
What challenges do you and the Trust face running The Granville?
Some of the community are understandably nervous about the changes that are happening to The Granville. There’s a lot of change in South Kilburn. But I hope, because we have the best intentions and I do think it’s going to be a brilliant space, when it opens, people will love it.
Two things I’ve learned along the way including – You can never communicate enough. And you need to keep going when you really believe in something, despite the challenges along the way.
It’s great to have the opportunity to meet and work alongside the many people that are doing something to make a difference in South Kilburn.