“I moved onto the Alton estate in 1996 with a group of friends. The estate is huge; one of the biggest in Europe.
After living on the estate and becoming friends with people in the area, it didn’t take long for me to start falling in love with the community, the green spaces, the pubs and the people who lived here. At the same time though, I was struck by some of the negative things that went on.
I heard about older people living in isolation and fear, who hadn’t been out of their homes for 20 years. I saw some of the damage that poverty, violence, drug abuse and alcoholism was having. And I saw a lack of hope and positive opportunities for local young people.
“My friends and I began to dream and talk together about what we could do to make a difference in the area and see it really thrive.
In January 2000, we formed Regenerate and started the process of registering it as a charity. We couldn’t have done it without the huge help, expertise, passion and vision of my Mum, Mo. She managed the finances and administration in those early years, while myself and friends started running projects in the community.
This began with a lunch club for the older people in the area. We rented a church hall, employed a cook, and within a few weeks we had over 100 regular members who had previously been isolated.
“We then started developing projects for young people, such as football and dance clubs, homework groups, trips out of London. Before long this grew and we had a drop-in youth centre with a music studio, mentoring schemes and international volunteering trips.
Over the years we have also worked with communities on other housing estates around South West London, helping them start community initiatives.
In 2006, Regenerate RISE was established as a separate charity to focus on work with the elderly and Regenerate remained as a youth charity.
“In 2014, Regenerate founded its first social enterprise The Feel Good Bakery.
The Feel Good Bakery employs young people facing barriers to employment.
Not only that, we have funded over 280,000 meals for children through our ‘one for one’ scheme; working in partnership with grassroots organisations in Kenya and Romania, every coffee we sell funds a meal for children there.