April 1 2004

(L-R Marc Wadsworth, Chanel Registe-Charles, Cllr Lincoln Beswick, Mrs Carrol Registe-Charles)

For many people, the very mention of Harlesden and Stonebridge is likely to evoke images of the excesses of inner-city life. This is the reason why Brent-based BTWSC, a voluntary organisation that uses the creative arts to develop the potential of youths and adults, set up The Bridge competition.

The inter-generational competition was funded by the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund For Harlesden & Stonebridge. This community cohesion project required a young person to collaborate with someone from another generation, like a parent, uncle, mentor or teacher, to write a piece highlighting positive aspects of Harlesden or Stonebridge.  “The entries we received justified our belief that there are many positive things to be found in Harlesden and Stonebridge,” said BTWSC co-ordinator Ms Serwah.

“The winning entry, ‘H.A.R.L.E.S.D.E.N’, cleverly used the letters in the name to highlight several positive points about the area. It was written by 15 year old Chanel Registe-Charles and her mum Mrs Carrol Registe-Charles. Second place went to Marlon Maitland, who collaborated with Marvin Blake, the youth worker at Tavistock Community Centre. Third prize went to two girls – Damilola Soile and Natasha Bannister, and Ms Davina McCarthy, their teacher at Convent of Jesus and Mary College. There was even an entry from a five year old, Tareeq Fraiter, whose collaboration with his aunt Vanessa Simpson, won the fourth prize.”

Before presenting the finalists with certificates, books, Parker pens, and book tokens at the recent BTWSC end of courses and projects edu-tainment ceremony at Tavistock Hall in Harlesden, Cllr Lincoln Beswick offered this note of caution:

“People have a negative view about Harlesden, my ward, that I have been living in for forty years. You see it on TV, as if it’s only about drugs and guns. That’s not the case. If someone should know, I should know. The anti-crime remit in this borough is mine, and it’s not Harlesden or Stonebridge that’s the worse. So don’t listen to that negativity. Move forward.”

A statement by Patrick Lewis, head of the Neighbourhood Renewal Team (NRT), was read by Ms Serwah. It pointed out that although government indices suggest that Harlesden and Stonebridge rank among the top ten most deprived wards in the country, and also have levels of unemployment above regional and national averages, the NRT finds “immense dignity, passion, and commitment from the residents, community groups and organisations. It is our intention over the next two years to work with partners, agencies and the voluntary sector to bring about improvement. Using your energies and our dedication to the task, we are sure that we can slowly change perceptions of Harlesden and Stonebridge and improve the standard of services within it. Our slogan for our work is to assist residents to love where they live.”

The statement added: “We very much welcome this initiative hosted by BTWSC and hope that you can spread the word of change on the horizon, which will go some way towards changing the government’s indicators, and encourage more people not only to love where they work and play. But to crucially love the neighbourhoods they live in.”

The Bridge winning entries will be displayed in an exhibition in Harlesden this summer. Residents who would like their work to be considered for the exhibition can submit short articles, poems or songs highlighting the positive aspects of Harlesden or Stonebridge to BTWSC by July 16 2004 via or P O Box 14092, London NW10 1WL.



Ms Serwah

BTWSC co-ordinator