Sarah-Jane first joined Peabody in 2012 working as a Neighbourhood Manager for homes in central London before moving to her current role as Information and Engagement Manager in Thamesmead four years ago. She says: “I’d worked in Housing since I was 23 and wanted to do something different and more positive rather than staying in an enforcement role.
“It was obvious there was going to be a lot going on in Thamesmead and I thought it would be really interesting to go on that journey watching an entire town change and develop over a number of years.”
In her role Sarah-Jane works with colleagues to make sure local voices are heard, this can involve partnering with local groups, such as the Community Design Collective and Creating Pavements Team, to deliver projects. “Obviously any change in a community brings concerns and questions from residents so it was important that Peabody had a plan in place and somewhere people could come and ask about what we were doing and how they can become involved.
“You can have all the information online or in leaflets that residents can take away but there’s always going to be those who prefer meet face-to-face and talk things through. “Over the past four years the way Peabody works with the community has really developed and now projects are often done in partnership between us and local groups or individual residents.”
Sarah-Jane successfully studied for an Master’s degree in Contemporary History and Politics while she’s been at Peabody and is now using that passion for local heritage to become a fully qualified tour guide by completing a training course run by the Open City scheme.
“It’s impossible to work in Thamesmead without becoming fascinated with the town’s history and architecture and I wanted to learn how I could share that interest with other people.
“The course has taught me how to create a tour, conduct risk assessments, everything you need to know to carry out successful tours. “This summer I ran a tour in Thamesmead called “Beyond Brutalism” as part of this year’s Open City programme, I was a bit nervous at first but more than 30 people turned up and I really enjoyed it and I think they did too. “It was such a treat to show places like Abbey Wood, the Moorings Sociable Club, the original 1960s buildings and Thamesmead’s great green and blue spaces with people who hadn’t been her before.”
But it’s not just spreading the word of Thamesmead to visitors that excites Sarah-Jane about her role at Peabody, it’s her day-to-day interaction with residents and hearing what they think that gets her out of bed in the morning.
“Feedback from residents is so important, the conversations I have had with local people over the years is always passed on and has a real influence on the future plans for the town,” Sarah-Jane says.
If you’d like to know more about what Peabody is doing in Thamesmead, get involved in projects or have ideas about how we might connect better with local people you can contact Sarah-Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org