Asquith Mural

Asquith Xavier Mural

Building on our work to celebrate the hidden stories of this corner of Chatham, our latest mural has been painted on Hare Street.

Arches Local commissioned renowned artist Voyder to respond to a list of local stories and, as can be seen, he chose the extraordinary story of Asquith Xavier.

Asquith played an important role in the campaign for racial equality in the workplace.

He was born in Dominica and moved to England in 1958 as part of the Windrush generation, invited from the Caribbean to help rebuild post-war Britain.

He joined British Railways as a guard at London’s Marylebone station in 1966. With the closure of the Marylebone main line, Asquith applied for a transfer to Euston station but was rejected due to a ‘whites-only’ recruitment policy, which excluded black people from customer-facing roles.

Asquith fought this decision and eventually became the first non-white guard at Euston station, marking a pivotal moment for this country.

His strength and determination also influenced changes to the law, which made the refusal of housing, employment or public services to people based on their ethnic background illegal.

Asquith lived on Grove Road from 1972 to 1980 when he sadly passed away.

If you have a wall or a local story you’d like to be considered for future murals, please get in touch!


🥬 Cabbage Mural

Cabbage Mural

In February a member of our Big Local Partnership expressed an interest in seeing more public art across our area, and yesterday we finalised a mural as the first step in that journey. 

Arches Local commissioned renowned artist WOSKerski (Dawid) to artistically respond to a list of local stories and, as can be seen, he chose to respond to the story of Cabbage Island.

Little is known about the exact origin and boundary of Cabbage Island, but it represents Luton’s historic role as an agricultural area, predominantly growing cabbages. The term was repopularised in 2017 by Icon Theatre in their efforts to celebrate the hidden history of Luton. 

Creative licence was key from the outset and as such Dawid portrayed the story of Cabbage Island in a unique way by painting a cabbage that returned to Luton along with a team of investigators establishing what exactly happened.

Whilst ​​we were sheltering from Storm Ciaran, Dawid ran a workshop at Luton Primary School, where he outlined his career as an artist and gave the children a painting challenge of their own. As a parting gift to the school, Dawid painted one of his famous pieces, a fried egg.

If you have a wall or a local story you’d like to be considered in future murals, please get in touch!


🎨 October Fit & Fed

October Fit & Fed

Despite the never ending rain, there were smiles all around for 54 young people that joined us each day this October half term.

A special thanks to our regular partners Nucleus ArtsOlympia BoxingSport On Your Doorstep, and to Mrs Bakers Medway Theatre Company for the extracurricular activities they provided.


⛵ Aboard the Edith May

Aboard the Edith May

We were delighted to be invited on the Thames sailing barge Edith May with some of our partnership members, their friends and family.

All within an hour, we explored the history of Thames barges, how to operate the vessel and began sailing towards the Historic Dockyard Chatham.

Thank you to Medway Plus for the invitation and to Tiller & Wheel for being accommodating and insightful hosts.

To find out more about Tiller & Wheel and their efforts to preserve the surviving fleet of East Coast heritage craft see here: https://tillerandwheel.com/.


💚 Silver Sunday

Silver Sunday celebrations

On Sunday the 1st of October we held our annual Silver Sunday celebration at Pembroke Court in Chatham. Silver Sunday is the national day of celebration for older people and provides an opportunity  to connect with their local communities and the generations around them.


🌱 Summer Fit & Fed 2023

Summer Fit & Fed 2023

You guessed it, throughout August we held our summer Fit & Fed programme thanks to the support of Medway Go. This time around we ran for four days, Monday to Thursday, for 4 weeks of the summer break.

Despite the unpredictable weather, we averaged 70 young people each day that were to be immersed in a world of physical and creative activities provided by our regular partners Nucleus ArtsOlympia BoxingSport On Your Doorstep, Street Games, etc.

Wild foods expert Miles Irving joined us for a weekly foraging activity and Electric Medway & Mrs Bakers Medway Theatre Company combined forces to deliver a singing and scanning workshop too!


🏊 Water Safety with BSA & Victory Academy

For the past 12 weeks, we've worked with The Black Swimming Association and The Victory Academy to design and deliver a life saving water safety programme. With drowning ranking among the leading causes of accidental death, claiming the lives of approximately 400 people each year, it's crucial to equip young people with life-saving skills and knowledge. 

Our programme supported and empowered a group of 17 young people from The Victory Academy who lacked swimming proficiency to become competent swimmers and advocates of water safety. In addition to their weekly pool sessions, the programme provided unique opportunities to explore aquatic-related careers. Through a range of enrichment activities, participants gained invaluable insights into different aspects of the aquatic industry.

The first activity was discovering the world of managing the River Thames at Port Of London Authority and learning about the heroic efforts of the RNLI at their Gravesend Lifeboat Station. 

Later in the programme they headed to London to visit Sky Studios for a hands-on broadcast production experience and to produce their own water safety news reel.  

At Pentland Brands with Gung Ho they were immersed into aquatics branding and public relations.

The final enrichment activity took place at Chatham Maritime Watersports Centre where attendees learnt the art of kayaking and put their team working skills to the test with a raft build, race activity and recorded a water safety rap. 

Throughout the programme, we documented the transformative journey of these young individuals, capturing their growth and achievements. These experiences were compiled into a 10-minute film, which was screened for the first time at a celebration event. 

We’re proud to say that this programme, delivered in collaboration with The Black Swimming Association and The Victory Academy, has equipped these young people with life-saving water safety skills, as well as providing exposure to broader aquatic careers.

 


🎾 The Championships, Wimbledon 2023

On Saturday, July 8th, we had an incredible time at The Championships, Wimbledon, with both new and old participants of our LTA Serves Tennis Programme.

Despite the relentless rain, our spirits remained high as we witnessed the skills of two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova on Court 2 and had the chance to explore the fantastic facilities of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.

Thanks to the Lawn Tennis Association for giving us this amazing opportunity. Here's some of the fun we got up to!

 


👏 Thank You Sunday

On Sunday, July 2nd, we hosted our inaugural Thank You Day celebration at Luton Millennium Green. Thank You Day provides an opportunity for individuals to express gratitude for the countless contributions that enrich our communities and foster connections among neighbours throughout the year.

 

The inspiration for our own Thank You Day originated from conversations at our Thursday Hangout and Friday’s Underneath the Arches singalong. Through these conversations, a collective vision emerged, resulting in a great afternoon that showcased an array of performing arts and music.

The afternoon commenced with an enchanting Documentary Dance Theatre performance titled "The Allotment Project" by Casson & Friends.

Following this mesmerising act, The Plonkers took centre stage, strumming their ukuleles and lending their voices to a medley of songs. The Vision Signing Choir then captivated the audience by signing popular chart-topping tracks, whilst teaching the audience British Sign Language. Finally, the celebration concluded with an improvisational acting session delivered by Medway Play Lab CIC.

Be sure to stay tuned for our plans to commemorate Thank You Day in 2024.


The Kentish Lady Round 2 ⛵

We had an incredible time exploring the River Medway on the Kentish Lady last year that we couldn't resist organising another trip, inviting again the wonderful residents of Pembroke Court (an over 55's/retirement housing development) and members of our patchwork group to join us.

Our adventure began with a coach ride from Chatham in the morning, taking us to a picturesque riverside spot in Maidstone where we boarded the Kentish Lady.

As we set sail, we were treated to hours of breathtaking views along the River Medway. The cherry on top was the scrumptious fish and chips lunch that was the perfect amount of food to satisfy our hunger.