Our History

We’ve captured the inspiring stories of community activism in East Ham South that resulted in the birth of our organisation. This was thanks to generous funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2023 and great partnership work with Eastside Community Heritage and Community Albums.

You can read it all in one booklet called Celebrating our Local Heritage or skip to the sections below for photos and videos.

Jump to: Timeline | History | Video | Stories of our Staff

Our Timeline
BDCA History Timeline
The History of Bonny Downs Church
The Birth of Bonny Downs Community Association
Transforming The Well
The Restoration of Flanders Playing Field
Creating Our Grow Together Be Together Community Garden
Evolving Our Community Services
Launching the New Way Project
Celebrating Local Diversity
The Lasting Legacy of Pastor Howe

This short video explains how three separate local charities BDCA, Bonny Downs Baptist Church and NEWway project were all born and how we have been partnering together to achieve our shared goals for the community.

Some of BDCA’s pioneering staff

To celebrate our charity’s 25th anniversary year, we recorded the stories of 20 BDCA staff who pioneered projects here. Click on the photos to listen to their experiences:

Dave Mann founded BDCA in 1998 and has been Chair of Trustees ever since. He led the first volunteer team to resurrect The Well and Flanders Playing Fields from dilapidation.

Peter Laing pioneered the Bobby Moore Sports Pavilion construction and started our play schemes. He served as CEO for 13 years until 2020; growing the charity to reach £1m turnover milestone.

Listen to Peter talk about his work renovating The Well

Listen to Peter talk about the birth of the Field

Listen to Peter talk about becoming CEO

Sarah Laing co-founded our Children & Families Project back in 2008 then took on leadership of the whole charity in 2021. That same year, she created an innovative shared leadership structure.

Angie Allgood also co-founded BDCA’s Children & Families Project in 2008 then launched new poverty relief services, including food bank and New Day support centre, in 2013.

Listen to Angie talk about the future of BDCA

Listen to Angie talk about her work renovating The Well

Listen to Angie talk about Flanders Field

Sulthana Begum developed our volunteering, marketing and giving. She launched remote working systems in the Covid crisis and re-started our free sports and gardening groups post-pandemic.

Philippa King has fundraised to improve all our community venues. She has replaced the old boilers, built a better toilet block and created a new nursery by extending The Well.

Jess Craig did our young leaders programme in 2005 then became our main fundraiser in 2012. She now leads charity-wide innovation, including recent creation of the free CommuniTEA Café.

Tracey Pease joined BDCA in 2003 and is one of our longest serving staff members. Over these two decades, she has grown our finance team to cope with the charity’s expansion.

Stacey Cordery launched our first social enterprise (After School Club) in 2008 and has since been pioneering our community celebration events and support services for children in need.

Listen to Stacey talk about Inclusivity at BDCA

Listen to Stacey talk about BDCA Family Hub

Ellen Cordery founded our Over 65s Project in 2003 and still volunteers two decades later! She pioneered joyful coffee mornings, gentle exercise and trips for older residents and their carers.

Clem Richards served as our Over 65s Advocate from 2019-23 and rolled out a telephone-based befriending and advice service, supporting housebound elders during the long lonely lockdowns.

Linda Knowles was one of BDCA’s first ever paid staff members. Over 16 years, she handled the charity’s admin and centre management. She continued volunteering long after her retirement.

Chrispin Phiri helped re-launch our Youth Project post-pandemic and began a new mentoring scheme with music therapy for pupils who have been excluded from mainstream schools.

Maya Catsis also helped re-launch our youth project after the Covid-19 closure. She then started up much-needed youth mental health support activities, in partnership with the NHS.

Deepa Selvaraj rose to the challenge of managing our facilities in 2022. She has rejuvenated the heavily-used venues with repainted walls, air con, new flooring, storage and sound proofing.

Gemma Wooster helped scale up BDCA’s food bank provision in the height of the first Covid wave then launched our new discounted Food Club to help residents cope with the cost of living crisis in 2022.

Carla Goncalves moved from project user > volunteer > paid staff. She manages our parent support services, launching Family Hub for migrant Mums and a play group for SEND toddlers.

Listen to Carla talk about why she lives in Newham

Temi Olowookere became our Men’s Sports Activator in 2022. He encourages the guests of our New Day support centre for rough sleepers to play friendly football on the field outside.

Paris Tankard attended our play scheme as a child then helped lead our summer arts programme as a teenager. Recently joining our office in 2023 and piloted an online charity shop to raise funds.

Kevin Griffith has been working for BDCA since 2003 so is our joint-longest serving staff member. Alongside his firefighter job, he maintains all our grass pitches and manages our sports facilities.

Olenka Rug created BDCA’s beautiful eco-friendly Community Garden in 2013 in the North-West corner of our Flanders Playing Field site. Her “urban oasis” continues to be loved by locals.

Malathy Muthu served
across many of BDCA’s
teams including Over 65s
and Community Support.
She developed our much-needed debt advice surgery.

Sir Stephen Timms has continually served as MP for East Ham since 1994!
He actively supports BDCA and helped us campaign against No Recourse to
Public Funds conditions.

Our friends at Eastside Community Heritage conducted in depth oral history interviews with the above BDCA leaders and will be publishing an archive of their stories at https://www.hidden-histories.org/ soon.