This week we’ve asked our very own Alison Cormack some questions about working for BD_Collective and her vision for Barking and Dagenham.

How long have you been working for BD_Collective, and what initially attracted you to working for them?
I was appointed as community coordinator a couple of months after the BD Collective was formed. I applied for the role as I was working as a community engagement officer in the borough for a large construction developer and I love working in Barking & Dagenham, as well as living here!

What exciting changes have you seen since working for BD_Collective?
The way in which the community and voluntary sector really are the trusted, but silent, backbone of the community. It has been an honour to be able to work with these groups – to see some thrive with extra funding to support residents; to see similar community groups working together to implement new innovations; to witness the strength that is growing in the sector and seeing a marked change in how the sector is so vibrant and forward-thinking when given the opportunity to be.

What is your role, and what is your favourite part of your job?
As a coordinator, I am getting out and about meeting groups and their leads – I am joining people together each day, which is the best part of my role. I love meeting new people and every day I come to work, something different and exciting happens.

Has Covid-19/lockdown impacted the way that the borough has worked together and how?
Most definitely! Everybody has pulled together, collaborated, and helped each other. The voluntary and community sector really pulled out all the stops and no task was too much – it was truly an amazing sight, and it has really strengthened the sector no end as well as showing all of us how important they are in holding the community together.

What are the main difficulties you see of organisations/people working together?
The main challenge I see is that sometimes the bigger, wider picture is not seen. We are all finding out feet, and trying out new things, testing new boundaries and if we all work together, trust each other, and widen our horizons, we can achieve great things together – I am very sure of that.

How would you like to see the borough change?
That the voluntary and community sector has more power to implement and make changes for the betterment of the community in the long term. The community knows what it wants and once given that ‘ownership’ it has the impetus to build upon it.

What impact do you envision the networks could have?
I believe that the formation of Networks does give the power to the community – putting the local people in the heart of decision-making and ensuring a smoother delivery of services – our networks so far have proven that they can achieve more when they are collaborating and making joint decisions.

What do you see the main aim of the Collective in the future?
To expand on supporting more networks that cover all of the areas that the community require – and to keep joining the dots!