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Humans of Hilgrove: Community at heart of plans to improve togetherness on Swiss Cottage estate

PUBLISHED: 11:00 29 October 2020

Fateha McDaniel, one of the community organisers on the Hilgrove Estate. Picture: David James McErlane

Fateha McDaniel, one of the community organisers on the Hilgrove Estate. Picture: David James McErlane

Archant

If you step out of Swiss Cottage station over the next month, you might just spot one of the Humans of Hilgrove.

Leo Bacica of the Hilgrove Estate. Picture: David James McErlaneLeo Bacica of the Hilgrove Estate. Picture: David James McErlane

As part of a grassroots project to help people living on the eponymous estate – just over the road on the way to South Hampstead – build community links and take control of their neighbourhood, a team of five organisers have erected an exhibition highlighting some of the colourful personalities who live there.

The scheme is part of the North Camden Zone project being run by local charity and community centre the Winch, but the Humans of Hilgrove concept is the brainchild of a team of residents.

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Two, Fateha McDaniel and Leo Bacica told this newspaper what they were hoping to achieve.

Fateha, whose day job is in mental health, told this newspaper: “It’s basically been eight weeks of work over lockdown. I’m the organiser who has lived here the longest and I hadn’t realised how many people I know here!

Dino, another long-term Hilgrove Estate resident, is featured in the new exhibition. Picture: David James McErlaneDino, another long-term Hilgrove Estate resident, is featured in the new exhibition. Picture: David James McErlane

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She added the project had been a family affair, with her son Kaisaan helping to speak to neighbours and raise awareness.

She said: “The whole family got involved during lockdown,helping to get to know neighbours and tell them about this, it’s about what we can offer locally.”

For Leo, who works in the theatre industry – though has been unable to do so during the pandemic for obvious reasons – the project is a way of connecting with neighbours and helping the estate to recognise the gamut of skills residents have.

Elizabeth has lived on the Hilgrove Estate for the best part of 60 years. Picture: Rod Wynne-PowellElizabeth has lived on the Hilgrove Estate for the best part of 60 years. Picture: Rod Wynne-Powell

He said: “Because of lockdown I wasn’t working, so I was looking for a project. The Winch said they wanted to help boost the way the community lives together. But beyond that, it was down to us.

“The idea was to establish the project with the Humans of Hilgrove exhbition, and build a working relationship with each other and the people living here.”

One of the group’s next plans is to great an “asset map” of the estate, and plot all of the ways people are able to help their neighbours – whether that’s with skills in carpentry or setting up websites.

Leo added: “When we asked people what we can do to improve things, many ideas were issues for the council – but there were ideas like street parties, though not right now, and improving the green space. Improving our community is down to us.”


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