Kingsley Hall continues to be a community hub in East London’s Bromley-by-Bow. A range of activities for women, children and young people are run by different groups regularly. Since its inception the Gandhi Foundation has had it’s base on the top floor of Kingsley Hall, next to the historic Gandhi cell.
The highlight of 2012 has been the events linked to the Olympics. In the summer the building was opened up for visitors. There were various exhibitions on the life and philosophy of Gandhiji and the Lester sisters, Muriel and Doris. The Photographer Brijesh Patel displayed his works on Gandhiji’s Salt March. Sculptures by artist May Ayres on the theme of war were displayed in the Peace Garden and the garden on the roof.
Jim Kenworth a theatre director presented a play titled When Chaplin Met Gandhi, based on the Mahatma’s stay at Kingsley Hall in 1931. The local school children participated with professional actors and the play was highly commended. The Gandhi Foundation was one of the supporters of the project. The play has generated much interest among the local teachers and Jim Kenworth has been running workshops on Gandhi in various schools.
Due to the austerity measures of the local authorities and various funders, Kingsley Hall has been struggling financially. The centre is able to operate simply due to the goodwill of the staff and volunteers. The female community worker is away on maternity leave and it has not been possible to replace her. A major fundraising exercise is needed to restore the building and keep this historic centre running.
The Three Bees Cafe providing healthy food at a very reasonable price continues to operate every Tuesday. It is run by volunteers and is very popular. The Bangladeshi women’s group entered a competition on healthy cooking and won an award. Kingsley Hall aspires to develop the Peace Garden and have an eco garden to grow vegetables that can be used in the cafe. The garden would be used by local school children for educational projects. This requires resources which will have to be sought. Any help from the well wishers of Kingsley Hall to raise funds for the much loved historic building, promote the heritage of the Lester sisters and run the centre would be welcome.
You can contact Kingsley Hall on: 0208 981 5017
Kingsley Hall took part in the Open House London 2013 which attracted many visitors.
Shaheen Westcombe is a member of the GF Executive and a Kingsley Hall Trustee. She was awarded the MBE in 2001 for contributions to community relations.