The Hackney Mosaic Project, which provides a lifeline for people recovering from mental health issues and drug and alcohol addictions, is at risk of closure.
The project has so far been unable to secure another source of income after losing its funding from Hackney Council. Although its current space in the Hackney Pavilion has been provided rent-free since 2013, “increasing budget pressures” have caused the council to offer the space on a paid-for basis only.
A spokesperson for Hackney Council said: “Hackney Mosaic Project has produced some fantastic mosaics for our parks. In return we offered free accommodation to the group in the Hackney Downs Pavilion.
“However, it does cost the council to host the project as we have to pay for the electricity, water, and other consumables, and, at a time of increasing budget pressures, we cannot continue to offer this rent-free.”
Founder of the project Tessa Hunkin has filed 13 grant applications but not found funding for the project. The professional mosaicist does not earn a wage herself, voluntarily running mosaic workshops on Wednesdays, Thursdays and every other Saturday.
She said: “It is pretty hand-to-mouth, the funding keeps drying up and at the moment we don’t have any funding from the council or from the drug and alcohol services.”
Volunteers on the project are members of the local community and those referred by the Hackney Recovery service. Without the support of Hunkin’s workshops many volunteers feel their recovery would be put at risk.
Jamie Johnson, a recovering alcoholic who has been with the project for 18 months, said involvement with the project has been important for regaining a sense of worth: “I’ve got so much confidence, it’s given me self-belief, a sense of purpose. I’m giving something back to the community.”
The project began with a commission at Shepherdess Walk Park inspired by classical Tunisian mosaics. It has since received commissions from Sainsbury’s in Hoxton, as well as schools, cafes, charities, churches and parks around Hackney.
Just last year Eastlondonlines joined Russell Brand at Hackney Downs Park for the unveiling of a renovated children’s shelter.
An upcoming exhibition Pieced Together features work produced by members of the Hackney Mosaic Project, which will be available for purchase at Mercer Chance Gallery this weekend.
The council plans to reopen Hackney Pavilion for sporting use in the future.