In 1998, the members of Bonny Downs Baptist Church launched a community development charity to help tackle the poverty, loneliness and injustices in their neighbourhood. The charity’s first project was renovating a nearby community centre which had stood empty for several years.
Their vision was to create a hub for local community projects that would benefit local people from all walks of life. A team of volunteers began fundraising, talking to the council, recruiting other local residents, and getting their hands dirty demolishing the old building! After many years of hard work, they reopened the centre, now called The Well, in 2001.
The building is now a well-used community hub which features a large multi-purpose hall, a children’s centre, garden, community café, offices, training rooms, paved patio area and a counselling room.
In 2002, BDCA also took over responsibility for a disused nine-acre space in the heart of our community called Flanders Playing Field. After years of neglect, the grass had grown to shoulder height in places and the old pavilion had been burnt down during an arson attack.
Before it fell into disrepair, this field was once known as the ‘Wembley’ of school sports! Several sporting stars were discovered there including the West Ham legend Bobby Moore. BDCA managed to secure more than £1.3million of funding and worked in partnership with Newham Council to transform the overgrown jungle into a high quality sports venue – complete with a purpose-built indoor facility which we named The Bobby Moore Sports Pavilion.
The renovation was completed in 2009 and local residents now have access to indoor changing rooms, multi-use games area, car park, club room, well-maintained football pitches and cricket nets.
We then secured further funding from the Big Lottery Local Food Fund, which enabled us to bring to life the north-west corner of Flanders Playing Field through the creation of a new eco-friendly community garden in 2013.
Since its early beginnings in 1998, BDCA has flourished into a larger, independent organisation of changemakers who come from right across Newham’s rich multicultural community. We share with our founders the same universal desire to serve, and we work to empower everyone to play their part in transforming our community for the common good.
From our four transformed community venues, we deliver a wide and ever-growing range of community support projects today that make a real and lasting difference to the lives of local residents from all walks of life.
We also offer each of our high-quality community spaces for hire at affordable rates. Today, these provide a home for many local sports clubs, community groups, support services, faith groups and private functions.