The Boiler House: building happier, healthier communities in Hackney
Launched in 2010 by two Southern Housing Group customers, the Boiler House community space in Hackney works with residents, local organisations and trainers to deliver projects aimed at creating happier, more cohesive communities.
Six years ago, Claire Ferrigi and Anna Iskander-Reynolds noticed that local residents weren’t using the new community centre at George Downing estate, where they lived. With help from Southern Housing Group, the pair took over the space (which was originally a boiler house supplying heating for the estate) and ran it as a social enterprise, renting it out for community events and classes.
As interest in the centre grew, the Boiler House registered as a charity, with all proceeds reinvested into providing ways to benefit the local community.
The Boiler House now employs 14 people, including five Southern Housing Group customers, and includes two community spaces and a nursery for 2-5 year olds at the nearby Myddleton Grange estate.
Daily activities available include exercise classes for all ages, parties, general hire at discounted rates, courses, and seasonal celebrations. The charity also organises day trips outside of Hackney, and host a twice-weekly football club for kids.
This summer, the Boiler House organised a series of ‘carnival’ workshops. Over eight weeks, around 40 participants learnt how to design and make costumes, dance and play the steel pans, from experienced carnival teachers. They debuted their new-found talents at the Hackney One Carnival on 11 September, a celebration of Hackney’s diversity and culture that attracted more than 28,000 residents and visitors.
In recognition of their efforts, participants in the workshops won the Best Theme Interpretation award at the Hackney One Carnival Awards, held to recognise those who had helped make the carnival a success.
Claire said: “The Boiler House has been very successful, and definitely worthwhile, and I’m really pleased with how we’ve grown. This past year alone has been a bit crazy, but in a good way!”