The Reverend Gayler and Marks Gate Community tell us about the work they do in our local area:

Big Society = Lots of Locals

The Church of England has been doing it for centuries.

The whole of England is divided into parishes with a person responsible for all the people living within the boundaries of that parish. The average size is about 7000 people but with certain areas that can get stretched or increased.

With an informed person, a worshipping community to draw on and perhaps other denominations to work alongside this gives the church an immense opportunity and responsibility.

So at the northern top of the Dagenham and Rainham constituency, what are we up to at St. Mark's Marks Gate?

Last July the coffee shop in our only block of shops closed, bringing the total of empty shops to five. Responding to the comments of local people , St. Mark's is trying to re-open the shop for coffee, after School work, Second hand sales, sign posting of advice and a meeting place. Called The Haven, the project has got funding through Mission Opportunity Fund and is applying to the Council for free use of one of the empty shops.

Working with Marks Gate Agenda 21, we have launched the Mirror to Marks Gate project. Marks Gate may look just like another housing estate but from Roman cemeteries to the flat lived in by David Essex and from a tithe barn to an Iron Age fort, we are steeped in history. Add to that the memories of people living on the estate we are rich in heritage and we're trying to make that known.

Agenda 21 youth art project on Marks Gate

We are supporting Wellgate Community Farm in its partnership to develop the farm as a resource for the whole community and to be surrounded by the most environmentally friendly development in the country.

Community event with cart rides organised by Wellgate farm with Marksgate partners

Finally we are also working with partners to develop the whole of the Church site at St. Mark's. The dual purpose church is over used and the fabric is becoming tired.

Our purpose is to start again and to end with a church, preschool cafe training, kitchen, gym, performance hall and housing. The accommodation would include flats for volunteers to help build up the community resources.

Some of the ways we are trying to make difference as we think big but act local.