Home Audio Interview with Ron Newman

Audio Interview with Ron Newman


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Audio interview with Ron Newman, community activist, and member of 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games volunteer team. Ron is also deaf and partially disabled.

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Olympic & Paralympic Games 2012

Associated Person

Newman, Ron (Subject of)


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Photograph - copyright Arnau Oriel

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Interview summary:

[00:00:08] Introduces himself and background: Aged 7 left Scotland for London (Westminster). Moves to Kingsmead Estate with wife and family.

[00:00:57] Good description of his anti-crime community development work on Kingsmead Estate: 11 happy years. “Instead of being just a resident, we both were interested in community activity”. [00:01:46] His after work community activities: Joined Tenants & Residents Association. “There was lots of crime, and being a parent I didn’t want that anymore…” Led anti-crime and bullying work with Hackney’s Community Development Unit and police, to make estate safer for their children – established Community Development Trust [00:03:11] Good explanation why he refused to risk appearing in court against troublemakers. [00:03:29] Good explanation of success in getting rid of troublemakers and families: Thanks he hears from former Kingsmead troublemakers, turned respectable Hackney residents.

[00:05:04] Good story of providing young people’s services through his work in Tenants & Residents Association (TRA) : “We asked them, in a green world what would you like to have on this estate. And they all said, we want a community centre… so it can get us off the streets instead of being troubled by the police. And our parents can have their own relaxing time as well. That was pressure” [00:06:27] Good explanation how council finds and refurbishes local church hall for community use – after Ron and wife persuade pastor. [00:08:01] Good explanation how Ron and wife (Miriam) lead community getting CRB and running the centre themselves. [00:08:14] Good explanation how Ron and Miriam lead the work with Hackney Youth Service to fund engagement with estate’s older Youth (14-25) – Miriam takes a post as local youth worker. “So it was parents from the estate actually being employed – which is what we really wanted to do”. [00:10:05] Good explanation of growth and success - how other projects and areas supported them: Rotary Club, Orient FC, Arsenal FC, Capitol Radio “I thought ‘wow’ I did not anticipate this. I just wanted to be a normal resident. But it was really bubbly…”

[00:11:10] Good explanation of Ron’s massive stroke and 6-month hospital stay - how, although it ended his day job, Ron resumed his community work: Visits and talks. Recognition for his pioneering role. [00:12:11] Good story of Ron’s secret role in royal visit to Kingsmead. And other visits - International projects, other housing associations… [00:13:17] Good story of Ron’s first official speech during Home Office visit. [00:14:55] Good explanation of how Kingsmead TRA chose Ron to receive their awards for their achievements – eg ‘The Housing Award’, ‘Best Partnership Award’…

[00:15:32] Good explanation how Ron’s Community Leader/Developer role grew in stature: Leading new projects - Local Newsletter. Millennium Fellow(ship). Hackney Event in European Year for Disabled People. Media spokesperson [00:16:10] Good story of Ron getting RADAR award at (UK) person of the year ceremony. How it led to his international human rights work.

[00:17:25] Good explanation of Ron’s pride in his achievements, and his family’s support “I’ve enjoyed every moment of my journey…”

[00:18:20] Good description of Kingsmead when Ron and his family first arrived in 1986. “The description we were given by local people, oh you don’t wanna go there, it’s rough... The part we lived in very community led. Other parts you wouldn’t touch with a barge pole”. Good explanation of community sharing - people looking out for one another. [00:20:37] Good story of first impressions of the neighborhood: warnings and lack of security gates on their ground floor flat cause worry at first. Importance of first friendly neighbours. [00:21:50] Good resident’s eye-view of layout of estate blocks.

[00:22:29] Good description of strong feeling for Kingsmead Estate still: he’d be happy to move back “Because I love the community atmosphere”.

[00:22:51] Good explanation of only getting to know Hackney Wick area through his work towards the 2012 Olympics: How prior to this he mainly stayed in Kingsmead and Homerton area. [00:22:23] Little involvement with Hackney Wick before was his doctors visits in days of tower blocks.

[00:24:17] Good description of Lesney’s: Parking for primary care trust vehicles on one site. Smashed windows and ruin forced demolition of Lea Conservancy Road site. [00:25:17] Local housing trust tried to negotiate buying this site for pepper corn rate for dream housing development.

[00:26:30] Good explanation of what being re-housed in Hackney at Kingsmead Estate meant to Ron and his family.

[00:27:12] Good expression of his pride in challenging himself, and pride in his achievements. His daughter’s pride and understanding of his 20102 Olympics work.

[00:28:13] Good explanation of his 2012 Olympics work on Community Relations Team due to his membership of Deaf and Disabled Londoners Forum (DDLF): Trained to work of as an access auditor with knowledge of Disability Discrimination Act and Equality Bill. [00:29:42] Good story of DDLF’s support for Ken Livingston’s 2012 bid. DDLF gave support on condition they were involved in staging games – eg. employment, volunteering… “It’s been great all the way through…” [00:31:23] Good explanation of Ron’s enthusiasm and passion for the 2012 games as visions have become realities, and the opportunities and potential gains for Hackney “Whoever you are, you can be involved… It’s your games, we want your skills” [00:32:52] Good description of work after London’s bid won: Start of Ron’s work with Hackney Olympic Unit

[00:33:38] Good explanation of his years of work on behalf of local disabled people. Consultancy roles in disabled access issues around Hackney: Good story of liaison with chairman of Ridley Road Market Traders Association. Good story of liaison with Gillette Square development.

[00:42:20] Good explanation of his consultation role in the clearing of 4 Aces and buildings to make way for the new station and towers. “They (local people) had their moans and groans, but they’re now using it. And they’re using it daily to commute…”

[00:44:37] Good explanation of strong feeling for Kingsmead Estate - how he still has daily contact: Role as Management Committee member of Wally Foster Centre. Friends. Positive legacy of his work.

[00:46:18] Good description of changes in Kingsmead Estate Ron sees today: Lots of regeneration apart from the Olympic developments. “For the whole community – the young generation as well - they are going to so benefit.

[00:47:16] Good explanation of his belief that the 2012 Olympics are a long-term benefit to Hackney people.

[00:48:00] Good explanation of how ‘no-go’ areas are gone from Kingsmead Estate: CC TV, riddance of problem families. “Now you can walk through the estate and have no fear…” Other improvements like lifts installed.

[00:48:41] Good explanation of how form a disability point of view Ron would like to see Kingsmead bulldozed and be like Trowbridge: Too few wheelchair accessible homes on the estate. “Why should a disabled person have to move from his/her home… and go into a location that they don’t want to”

[00:51:00] Good critical analysis of long way still to go on Kingsmead Estate in terms of improvements and changes to recognize disabled people’s needs. How Ron challenges housing officers on disabled people’s behalf. “We all wanted it bulldozed… but there’s no harm in making reasonable adjustments”

[00:52:54] Good explanation of how Hackney will cope with staging the 2012 Olympics. Millions of visitors. Traffic congestion. Hackney will cope [00:53:37] Good expression of Ron’s positive attitude and excitement: “It’s a once in a lifetime dream – I would to be there… I know it’s going to be one big buzz, for everybody” Planned live screenings in Victoria Park. Petitions for local controlled parking zones.

[00:55:59] Detailed explanation of disabled travel provision for getting to the venues, and ‘blue badge parking allocations: eg. Hopper Bus from East Marsh parking area. Shops to loan wheelchairs…

[00:59:10] Good explanation of pre-booked East Marsh parking area, and how it will work: Location just before (New) Spitalfields Market...

[00:04:08] Good explanation of legacies Ron wants after the games: “We know it’s going to go back into a building site again – you’ve got to focus on local employment… The message is getting across to the Legacy Company. They’re out their introducing themselves…”

[01:07:35] Good explanation of Ron’s efforts that disabled access to Marshes and Olympic Park won’t end when Olympics are over: Disappointed car park will be returned to football pitches. They want permanent facilities like seating, wheelchair pathways…