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Supporting the community with new Tottenham Hale centre

PICTURED: (L-R:) Andrew Kwapong, Revd Andrew Williams, art teacher Nailah Daley-Allen, Martina Kwapong and Andrew Johnston in front of the altarpiece

A NEW community centre in Tottenham Hale has just opened featuring the first purpose-built Anglican church in London for 40 years.

At the heart of Hale Village is The Engine Room which will serve the community in a number of ways by offering a community centre, St Francis church, a nursery and a café.

Run by the Diocese of London it aims to be the ‘engine of the community’ and is named after the site on which it is built - a furniture factory, requisitioned during World War Two to build engines for fighter aircraft.

“Our strapline is ‘the community starts here’, said The Engine Room’s operations manager Andrew Johnston. “And we really want to get all sections of the community involved in what we are doing. We already have an incredible diversity of bookings – from children’s birthday parties to Christmas fairs to corporate bookings – and we have three spaces for people to hire at reasonable community rates.

"We are looking for people to bring in their ideas and their enthusiasm because a place like this really can make a difference.”

AWE: Local schoolchildren admire Graeme Mortimer Evelyn’s eye-catching altarpiece

Walk into St Francis’ main hall and you are instantly struck by the huge, colourful piece of artwork behind the altar created by acclaimed artist Graeme Mortimer Evelyn. Called The Eternal Engine it is the UK’s largest contemporary altarpiece and is open to a variety of interpretations.

“Graeme lived in our community for over a year and we talked about connectedness, which is reflected in this piece, and how connectedness is key for our work here in the community,” said the Revd Andrew Williams, priest at St Francis.

“It is hugely exciting to be a part of this and the community is the absolute focus of what we’re about. We also have the lease for 250 years so everyone knows we are here for the long haul.”

Loven bakery is a community focused cafe, bakery and wine shop which runs in collaboration with The Engine Room as part of the new community centre. It hosts events, promotes local businesses and organisations as well as providing appren­ticeship training schemes and affordable, healthy, high-quality food and drink.

For Martina and Andrew Kwapong the opening of the new building is a particular cause of celebration. For the past four years the church community workers have been helping locals from a small flat around the corner.

“We also worked from a shipping container and a park and now we’re here!” said Martina, laughing. “We wanted something different, something where the church and the community really does live side by side, and this is what we have in The Engine Room. The community love this place and people have already made friends through this.”

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