June 7th, 2018

Bowled over by Diamond Build’s community contribution

The old bowls club in Tottenham Hale is now the community hub for the charity and community champion Living Under One Sun: Robert Hawker from Diamond Build met Leyla Lascari, Living Under One Sun’s volunteer co-ordinator, to learn what’s been happening over the last two years of their stewardship during its restoration and community involvement. 

Leyla Laksari

In a hidden corner of Tottenham Hale is an old bowling club, now being brought back to life with the help of a mass of volunteers who are making it a focus of positive force in the local community. Run by Living Under One Sun, it is a charity created in 2005 by mothers of many cultures and ages who wanted to reduce their isolation, know more and make their much-neglected neighbourhood safer.

The bowling club, situated in Down Lane Park off Tottenham Hale, is still a work in progress – in its second year of transformation – but it’s already fulfilling its potential as a social and community hub, providing programmes to bring nature, sports, well-being, urban regeneration and harmony closer to communities that use it. 

Leyla Laksari and John Gray, Diamond Build’s chairman

It will no longer be a place for bowling but there are no shortage of ideas on how the lawn will be used from a space for camping to open air concerts and film screenings. A pizza-oven and BBQ building are already in mid-construction as the donated cooking equipment waits to be installed at the side of the lawn. 

But none of this would have been possible without the enthusiasm, energy and vision of Leyla Laksari, co-ordinator for Living Under One Sun (LUOS). She retells how she met Paul Brooks, director of support services at Diamond Build plc, a neighbouring construction company that has had its roots in Tottenham for over 40 years, through other community projects; and it was not before long that Diamond Build had adopted LUOS as its community project and has been providing its services and expertise ever since.

Standing outside the greenhouse, built by Diamond Build, Leyla muses what excites her about this space: “It’s about bringing people and their ideas together – supporting each other to improve our individual lives, shape the services around us and our neighbourhoods.

John and Leyla do a spot of gardening

But she tells John Gray, chairman of Diamond Build, how she couldn’t have done it without the unstinting support of his company: “They have been fantastic during this time – they were our contractors for the work and advised us on what was possible and helped us buy materials and provided teams of workers and experts to carry out the works.”

Leyla and her volunteers only secured the old bowling green site from Haringey council recently, to help achieve the vision of having a permanent home. 

“I asked the council for this space over three years ago but they said no. It took me a year of campaigning and then competing against 26 other groups to secure the space. It was without question a stressful time as we had no money but I raised £40K through a crowdfunding campaign and made a bid to the Mayor of London for money from the capital fund. We were awarded the largest sum of any group of £25K.

“Once we had the building we had to install heating, a ventilation system, toilets, showers, changing rooms, and kitchen. We also needed special areas for storage and catering equipment. The place was originally a mess and it took a lot of persuasion to get Haringey council to help pay to put these things right and it was Diamond Build who were our dedicated contractor and helped us build and renovate these resources.

Leyla and John outside the greenhouse which was built by Diamond Build. Many other areas inside LUOS’s building have been renovated by Diamond Build.

“I couldn’t have achieved half of what we have done so far without Diamond Build’s help. When I think back, it was the hope they gave me that things could be done that was truly inspirational and meant I kept going. Paul and his team have been amazing throughout this journey with words of advice and practical help, nothing ever seemed too much for them. I am so grateful for all that Diamond Build have given us.”

Visitors may still find their progress hampered by workers, volunteers and participants: all have the desire to make the place rise like a phoenix from the weeds and neglect that it had become many years ago. But visitors come away assured that Leyla and her volunteers are fulfilling their dream to help bring the community together with a fantastic new resource centre and place to meet… and Diamond Build continue to offer their practical assistance and expertise.

Leave a Reply