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Hackney Wick and Gascoyne Estate in perspective: a citizen science walking tour of prosperity

What does prosperity in Hackney Wick and Gascoyne Estate look and feel like? Citizen social scientists Alexis and Lorraine, both graduates of the IGP’s Citizen Science Academy led the Mayor of Hackney and his team from Hackney Council on a tour of their neighbourhood.


Drawing on interviews and ethnographic research Alexis and Lorraine conducted during Wave 1 of the Prosperity in East London 2021-2031 Longitudinal Study, they shared with us the barriers to prosperity that emerged in their research. Both Alexis and Lorraine were trained in qualitative research skills directly applicable to the study through the UCL’s Citizen Science Academy and are pioneering graduates of the Academy.



Image: Lorraine sharing her research insights on Gascoyne Estate


The Prosperity in east London 2021-2031 Longitudinal Study observes how households in 13 post-industrial neighbourhoods within east London self-report their prosperity over the decade 2021-2031. It is the UK’s first longitudinal study tracking household prosperity using the Institute for Global Prosperity’s citizen-led Prosperity Index – a 15-factor metric for prosperity based on extensive citizen science research with local communities. Through 3 waves of household surveys and qualitative research by citizens, the study identifies the short- and long-term conditions that enable household prosperity and explores how experiences of prosperity as well as ‘prosperity gains’ from regeneration are spatially and socio-economically distributed. The first wave of the study has just been completed, with a total of 7,741 residents in 4,093 households surveyed. Data and reports from the first wave will be released over the next year.


Starting in Gascoyne Estate, Lorraine spoke of her experience growing up there and the experiences of her community. She stressed that the lack of appropriate street lighting and poor maintenance of the estate were important barriers to residents’ sense of safety, belonging and pride in their estate. Kyarna, a resident of Homerton and community youth worker who joined us on the walk, agreed with Lorraine. Sharing the findings of her research with Hackney Quest and young people in the community, she emphasised the sense of danger created by dark streets and young people’s consequent apprehension towards exploring the areas around them.


Walking towards Hackney Wick and the Olympic Park, Lorraine also spoke of how young people in her community did not feel part of the ongoing regeneration initiatives there, instead feeling like the space was not or no longer theirs. Alexis echoed these sentiments, sharing how the space had become increasingly occupied by creative professionals whose class and culture felt miles apart from the residents of Gascoyne Estate.


As she led us further into the heart of Hackney Wick, past trendy pubs and organic grocery stores nestled in newly built office buildings, and swanky residential apartments, she expressed the felt gentrification of the space: how the layout of shops, the produce they sold, the look and feel of things all seemed exciting to some but felt alien and unappealing to others. She shared that the elderly residents she spoke to knew nothing of the regeneration initiatives within that area and had never ventured there. She wondered how creative initiatives in Hackney Wick, such as community theatre spaces, creative collectives, and other creative events, had not reached far, included, or been communicated to residents in certain parts of Hackney and Stratford.


Crossing into Fish Island, Alexis pointed out the pristine residential and office buildings dotting the space, which as some members of the group pointed out, might have felt alien even to the creatives close-by in Hackney Wick. As we reflected on the varying levels of felt difference and distance, the 2h-long, 4.2km journey we took from Gascoyne Estate to Fish Island seemed an apt metaphor.

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