Linking the Beaufoy Insititute to Jubilee Gardens

The Beaufoy Institute in Black Prince Road has been essentially shut for twenty years. A beautiful building gradually becoming derelict. It’s governed by a Trust whose purpose is to educate poor people in artisan crafts. Southbank Mosaics can open it as an artisan training centre for craft skills such as sculpture, ceramics and mosaics, and team up with other local voluntary organisations such as Putting Down Roots, Bankside Open Spaces Trust, Roots and Shoots and Groundwork to include horticulture, landscaping and gardening. The aim of the centre would be to work specifically with groups at risk of marginalisation, (but not entirely), and to give the training a purpose by involvement in public realm regeneration: parks, estates, schools, public spaces, public buildings and our streets.

By linking the re-opening of the Beaufoy Institute, with the regeneration of Jubilee Gardens – two important tasks can be achieved, with built-in sustainability for the future of both public sites. Jubilee Gardens has £460,000 per year maintenance as part of the London Eye’s profits given back to Lambeth. This money is currently hoovered up with little to show as outcome. If the two sites were linked, then the Beaufoy Institute would have a “purpose” to ensure Jubilee Gardens was maintained as a world class site, with planting, horticulture and artisan installations that bring character and detail to our public space.

Accredited training, with nationally recognised qualifications, would be provided at the Beaufoy Institute for:
Ex-offenders released from prison
People serving community service orders through the criminal justice system, as an alternative to custody
Homeless people and those living in homeless hostels
Young People not in education, training or employment
Young offenders
Young people at local schools who wanted vocational training in artisan crafts or horticulture and gardening
Young people with special needs who wanted preparation for employment in artisan crafts and horticulture
Additional training would include entrepreneurial skills and soft skills such as anger management, how to cope with family crises, and work towards community cohesion.

The current plan to develop Jubilee Gardens as a “landowners’ scheme” that looks after the corporate interests of the South Bank area, misses the point that this is public land owned by the people. Community value must be added and the landowners need to understand that the world community that they fondly welcome, includes the local community with all the special needs that every locality lives with. At the moment it appears that the money will be spent on something that looks slick, but lacks sustainability. This is a great opportunity to lay foundations for a new approach towards a creative culture that includes people traditionally considered marginal – the recipients of benefit or punishment. It’s time to move forward at a local level and begin re-opening disused buildings, while designing in the skills needed to improve public space, creating many grass roots jobs.

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