Friday, February 18, 2005
The real EastEnders
the community centre (also the surgery, the playground & the war memorial)
Den: Doctor Doctor, I only have six hours to live.
Dr Legg: I'll get the bodybag ready.
Before we leave Bromley-by-Bow there's just time to drop in on a local success story (I thought we ought to, before you all got the wrong idea about the place). The Bromley-by-Bow Centre is a pioneering community regeneration project, its chosen aim to bring about social change through 'collective enterprise'. Twenty years ago this was a new project housed in a couple of rooms in the local church hall, but now there's a health centre, youth club, nursery, cafe, 'skills hub' and 'ideas exchange' on the site, employing more than 100 people. It all sounds desperately worthy but it works, and this building has been the model for more than 150 other Healthy Living Centres across the country. However, I wish I'd been warned before I signed up here that the GPs like to prescribe "gardening, exercise in a gym, homoeopathy, counselling, aromatherapy, acupuncture or employment training" in addition to traditional medication. I'm now making an extra special effort to stay healthy in order to avoid all of the above - which shows just how well the place works.
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