Rejuvenated community space offers residents a home from home

8 March 2023

Residents and their families at 3 council-owned tower blocks in Chadwell St Mary are benefiting from a newly improved community room and brand-new community pantry initiative, thanks to a collaborative partnership between Thurrock Council and Kensa Contracting.

On Tuesday 7 March, local residents from Gooderham House, Poole House and George Tilbury House joined Cllr Qaisar Abbas, Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities, to experience their new community room in George Tilbury House at a special event. Residents enjoyed refreshments, while children were invited to take part in arts and crafts activities.

Thurrock Council worked with ground source heat pump delivery partner and contractor Kensa Contracting, who funded and installed the room improvements and community pantry through their Social Impact Fund, which aims to improve the quality of life in communities where Kensa operates, to provide the valuable community space.

Kensa Contracting is currently upgrading the heating systems of 273 council properties with ground source heat pumps to enhance the tower blocks' energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

Cllr Luke Spillman, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "This initiative is so valuable to residents living in these tower blocks. Not only does it give them a respite area when their heating upgrades are being carried out but looking ahead to the future, this room can be used for resident events or offer a warm cosy place for residents and their families to enjoy.

"Residents have also been able to ask questions about the heating project and the work being undertaken, and one of our Tenancy Management Officers was on hand to provide support at this event."

Ieman Barmaki, Sustainability Director for Kensa Contracting, said: "Kensa are delighted to be working with Thurrock Council to support the community to transition to low carbon heating inside their flats. As part of this initiative, we have been able to work for the community to revamp the space at the ground floor of George Tilbury House to provide a warm space for all residents to use. We look forward to meeting with more residents during the course of our works here and hope that in the meantime the warm community room will be used to help alleviate some of the concerns and pressures associated with the energy market and cost of living increases."

A community pantry has also been installed at the tower blocks, offering in-date donated food items and surplus stock from local businesses.

Cllr Spillman added: "The pantry will offer residents cupboard staples that may have otherwise gone straight to landfill. Dates on donated stock will be checked and shelves will be refilled.

"We ask that residents in the blocks only take what they need to ensure everyone who needs support can benefit from the project, and to donate items where they can. On completion of the heating upgrade scheme, we will reach out to other contractors that we work with to help keep the pantry running.

"Thank you to our Housing Teams who have supported the project and to Kensa Contracting for funding this initiative which is so beneficial to this community."

Photo below: children playing in the new community room.