Island Neighbourhood Project closes after 34 years
AFTER more than 34 years of community work on the Isle of Dogs, the Island Neighbourhood Project (INP) is closing down this week. Established by the Methodist Church in September 1980, INP has always been an innovative and evolving project as it worked to bring local people and communities together on the Island. Much has been achieved over the years, but with funding increasingly difficult to sustain, the INP management group reluctantly recommended closure. This decision was supported by the Methodist Church in Tower Hamlets, but the church will continue to look for new opportunities of working with communities on the Isle of Dogs.

INP would like to thank its staff, volunteers and the many partner organisations on the Island with whom it has worked during the last 34 years. Some of those organisations have developed and expanded aspects of INP's work.

In 1980 the project began with the appointment of one worker who used her home on the Isle of Dogs as a base. Original services were focused towards women who were unemployed and, at times, housebound with a lack of resources, income and friends in the area. This developed into mother and toddler groups, lunch clubs, drop-in and advice sessions, youth programmes and organising activities and trips for local people.

Throughout the years the main ethos of INP has always been to locate and work alongside those on the Island who are most in need through hardship, discrimination and lack of opportunity. This evolved into three main strands, each with their own network of activities: the Docklands Women's Group; the John Tucker club, working with elders on the Barkentine Estate; and the Men's Group, with its focus on healthy living, football (Island FC) and educational projects. For a number of years, INP's administrative base has been in the familiar 'Red Shop' on Westferry Road. (The John Tucker Club will be run directly by the Methodist church for at least another year.)

The superintendent minister of the Methodist Church in Tower Hamlets, the Rev Cameron Kirkwood, said: "The work of the Methodist Church on the Isle of Dogs through the Island Neighbourhood Project has made a significant contribution to the well being of many people who accessed its services over the past 34 years. It has offered support and care to individuals, families and communities as well as initiating pieces of work on the Island which others have since developed and expanded. The on-going difficulties in finding those willing to fund that work, alongside ourselves, has resulted in this difficult, but realistic decision. The Methodist Church in Tower Hamlets recognises the enormous contribution its staff and volunteers on the Island have made to the success of the project and the quality of services it has been able to provide. "

October 2014

For further information contact the Methodist Church circuit office: 020 8880 7301.