Established in 2021, the Resident Events Panel (REP) is a group of volunteering residents who work in partnership BRL to shape the programme of events for the neighbourhood. The REP receives event management training and a yearly budget, and it has organised three events to date, with a fourth to be held in February 2023.
Catering for children and adults alike, so far, they have run the Wilds Fiesta, a Latin-American themed salsa and food evening, the Barking Summer Games, and an arts and crafts Eat Drink Do event with creative workshops for all ages.
REP members, Fam and Ruxandra, have shared their experiences of being part of the unique community group.
What have you enjoyed most about being part of the REP?
Ruxandra: “The social aspect of being part of the Resident Events Panel was really important to me. I love that we meet physically, in person at The Wilds and can get together to discuss our ideas.
I’ve had experience organising events before, and think it’s been a great opportunity to bring together people who may not have otherwise known each other.”
Fam: “Joining the REP has given us, as residents, the chance to foster a community environment and spirit into something very unique. Especially since Covid, as neighbours, we’ve been able to communicate and establish friendships, which for me personally has been really great since I moved here last year and didn’t know anyone.”
What have you learnt from being part of the REP?
Fam: “I’ve been surprised by the sheer amount of planning that goes into events. Personally, being a member of the REP has allowed me to throw myself into something creative, out of my comfort zone, and to develop my personal organisational and management skills.”
Ruxandra: “I’ve learnt what a unique community Barking Riverside is! Having lived in different London boroughs for the last 20 years, I can safely say I’ve never felt so at home somewhere. I’ve never seen a committee group like the REP anywhere else I’ve lived, and it’s been a chance to learn new skills in events management.”
Why is it important for these events to be led by residents?
Ruxandra: “It’s important because we’re the voice of the local community, who work to communicate real experiences of the people living here. The REP is ‘for residents, by residents’, and we’re able to deliver events we know people want to attend.”
What does this money mean for the community?
Fam: “I think being given a budget for community events gives us as the REP a sense of accountability and responsibility. It’s an opportunity for us to do the best we can for local people, whilst also being accountable to BRL.”
Which has been your favourite event?
Ruxandra: “Definitely the Wilds Fiesta. I loved the salsa class, and it was great to see so many people taking part, socialising and learning a new skill. It was great to have a food offering and a bar—something we’ve never had at the development before.”
Fam: “I enjoyed the Barking Summer Games the most. I think that event showcased what the REP can bring to the table. We had all sorts of games, with the sumo wrestling and tug of war being the most popular, and people of all sorts of ages were able to get involved. The most memorable thing for me was speaking to people the day before about the event, and then actually seeing them attend—it was a great feeling seeing all our hard work come to fruition.”
What are you looking forward to as part of the REP as we move into next year?
Ruxandra: “I’m looking forward to developing more event management skills, such as doing Risk Assessments and really getting to grips and health and safety requirements and supplier liaison.”
Fam: “As we move onto organising our fourth event, I’m looking forward to the REP becoming an even more sustainable, self-sufficient organising committee. I hope we can deliver events more regularly for the local community at Barking Riverside.”