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Fresh "Starting Point" for Barking Community Groups


Almost 50 community groups in Barking and Dagenham are taking advantage of the training and support available at a unique business facility in the borough.

Starting Point gives small and voluntary groups the chance to grow by offering subsidised office space and expert guidance to those people working to make a difference to their community.

The facility was built with support from the London Development Agency (LDA) and set up by the housing association East Thames Group.

Last week, the success of the centre was celebrated by the London Development Agency’s Chief Executive, Peter Rogers and June Barnes, Chief Executive of East Thames Group.

The LDA’s support for community groups in Barking and Dagenham is part of its overall commitment to increasing opportunities for people in the capital and giving organisations the support they need to prosper despite the current economic conditions.

Chief Executive of the London Development Agency, Peter Rogers, said:

“Improving the skills and job prospects of Londoners is particularly important during the economic downturn and the LDA is pleased to help smaller organisations become sustainable and grow. Small and voluntary groups make a valuable contribution to Barking and Dagenham - and London as a whole - and the support available at Starting Point can help set them on the right track. Starting Point is an example of what can be achieved when organisations work together for the benefit of the community.”

Starting Point currently offers hot desking facilities and a diverse range of support services for 48 small community groups. Organisations have to apply to join the centre and can apply for a small grant to help them with their overheads. Groups are expected to access the advice and support offered at the centre and reach a number of key milestones to ensure they become sustainable.

June Barnes, chief executive of East Thames Group said:

“Starting Point is providing a unique facility for the growing number of community and voluntary organisations in Barking and Dagenham. It offers the full range of support and guidance that these organisations need to be sustainable; empowering them to make a real difference in the area. It is a great example of East Thames’ commitment to recognising, and responding to, changes in the communities where we work. This is even more important than ever before as the build up to the Olympics is bringing a period of rapid change to east London and Essex.”

For more information visit the Starting Point website.

Notes to editors:

* The London Development Agency aims to improve the quality of life for all Londoners - working to create jobs, develop skills and promote economic growth.
* The LDA has provided £980,000 in funding for Starting Point. It is the first stage of an investment in community groups in Barking and Dagenham.
* The second stage of the project will provide space for established businesses. A proposal is currently being developed.
* East Thames is a registered social landlord and registered charity, and is a company limited by guarantee. Its mission is ’to make a positive and lasting contribution to the neighbourhoods in which we work’. With its three operating subsidiaries – East Homes, East Potential and East Living – East Thames is the largest housing association of its type in east London and Essex.


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