Community Cafe investigates ‘getting things off the ground’

UpRisers took part in a ‘community cafe’ with speakers from a range of backgrounds who discussed how to set up new campaigns or projects.

As part of UpRising participants set up develop your own ideas and apply their learning through leading a community campaign aimed at influencing change to help solve a problem affecting their community.

Through group discussions with the speakers the UpRisers got the opportunity to get useful advice for the setting of their community campaigns.

Speakers at the learning session included:

The community cafe was held on 10 September 2009 as part of an UpRising learning session hosted by HSBC.

Biographies of speakers

Rushanara Ali is an Associate Director of the Young Foundation. She is responsible for research and international work. Rushanara joined the Young Foundation in March 2005. Before joining the Young Foundation, Rushanara worked at the Communities Directorate of the Home Office taking forward a work programme in response to the 2001 riots in the north of England. She has also worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; as a Research Fellow for the centre left think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research and as a Parliamentary Assistant. She worked for Michael Young helping to develop a telephone interpreting company called Language Line ( and helped set up Tower Hamlets Summer University, ( a pioneering model which has cut youth crime in the area and has been successfully replicated around London.

Claire Cooke is the Arts Development Officer for the Barking Creative Industries Quarter, a multi-million pound development by London Thames Gateway Development Corporation that sits on the River Roding to the east of the Town Centre. Previously Claire has worked for Creative Capital, the British Film Institute, the Young Vic, ENO and a number of theatre companies in a variety of roles from Project Manager to Production Co-ordinator. She is also the producer and deviser of the award winning / critically acclaimed On the Fringe for Resonance 104.4 FM and The Smoking Cabinet Festival of Early Cabaret Cinema – the education wing of which she is currently running as an independent business called Mirror Mirror.  

Guy Dehn yesterday launched a new charity called Witness Confirdent ( within which is position is policy practitioner. The aim of the organisation is to take a stand against the walk-on-by culture that fuels violent crime, feeds fear and fractures communities. Guy previously set up and ran the organistation Public Concern at Work (, a charity which seeks to support both individuals and organisations with the issue of whistle blowing. Guy is also a trained barrister.

Victoria Ekubia joined Barking and Dagenham Council in May 2007 as Neighbourhood Manager for Heath ward. For the past 20 years Victoria has worked in the fields of community development, youth work and education, up and down the country and across Europe, in both a professional and voluntary capacity. Victoria’s first priority since becoming a Neighbourhood Manager has been to get to know people of all ages who live and work in the ward. The aim of Neighbourhood Management is to get residents involved in what’s happening in their environment and together meet the residents’ needs and priorities so they can see a difference in their area.

Muna Hassan was a participant UpRising 2008/09. Muna campaigns to raise awareness around the use of the drug Khat in the Somali community. In recent months Muna has been approached by various independent TV stations in relation to her campaign. Also the Tower Hamlet PCT group want to use the short film Muna made as part their mental health promotion strategy, regarding the mental healthy needs assessment of the Somali population of Tower Hamlet Muna currently working for OSCA ( and with the Al-Huba Mosque on the preventing violence and extremism project. 

Douglas Thackway Since 1989 has been working with all sectors of the cultural and creative industries to support and develop their commercial success both in the UK and internationally. He has developed fundraising / sponsorship, marketing, publicity, business development, project management strategies and delivered related programmes across many sectors including local Government (Southampton, Barking councils), subsidised arts organisations (BFI, Dance Umbrella, SPACE Studios), commercial creative oganisations (Hopkins Architects, Guy Greenfield Architects, Classic FM, Universal Music Group, Polygram, London Contemporary Art Fair, New Designers, Recorded Pictures), and commercial businesses (Scott Wilson Engineers, Bouygues).  Today Douglas is the co-founder of a Social Enterprise, (The Faculty of Excellence), supporting and nurturing creative, sustainable and social innovation – the key ingredients for a 21st, knowledge based society.

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