A £1.5m renovation project to restore a community centre for East and South-East Asians in Hackney has been approved.
The project is being jointly funded by Hackney Council, which is contributing £950,000 and the remainder will come from The Good Growth Hub a regeneration programme for community development in London.
The building, in Englefield Road, Dalston, was originally the An-Viet Foundation, was established in 1981 and according to Hackney Council, it is Britain’s largest known archive of British- Vietnamese history. It was also known for the support given to the Vietnamese community in Hackney in terms of; ‘housing, health outreach, English language, and mother-tongue classes’. It was vandalised in 2017 and vacated.
The council said the refurbished centre would include a commercial kitchen and a community cafe, as well as an outdoor space for summer events, meeting spaces, a large multi-functional hall for events and hot desking space for hire with high-speed broadband.
The Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville said: “Hackney is a place where diversity is celebrated, so it is with pride that we announce this investment for a new community centre which will provide a vital facility.”
The local area is home to around 8,000 Asian people, around 5,000 Vietnamese.
Jabez Lam, the centre manager said: “The building witnessed the Vietnamese ‘boat people’ transition from being a new refugee community to becoming a settled community making social, cultural, and economic contributions in Hackney and beyond…We look forward with high spirits and promise for more opportunities for ESEA people to flourish in the UK at the renewed building.”
The Mayor also added his hopes for the refurbished centre: “I hope this restoration will help repay their contribution to Hackney and help meet their aspirations for the future, starting an exciting new chapter for all the organisations involved. Without this intervention from the Council, treasured memories, including mine, risk being lost and the building would deteriorate further and likely remain empty for the foreseeable future, resulting in a great loss for the community.”