Celebrating the spaces
Tower Hamlets carers go to pause

2020 marks the 22nd anniversary of the Carers Centre in Tower Hamlets.

The centre was set up by a group of women who were unpaid carers and understood just how important support is for those who provide free care to friends or family members.

Today unpaid carers contribute billions to the UK economy. They are spinners of many plates, often becoming experts in the health issues and needs of those they care for as well as acting as counsellors, diary planners and guardians.
Not surprisingly, they are often at risk due to the demands and isolation of their role. The Carers Centre in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets has always been proactive in promoting well-being and self-care.

This project celebrates the spaces in Tower Hamlets where unpaid carers go to take a break and get some essential headspace. Each story is different but all share a similar theme, that time out is vital for carers to get the respite
and perspective they need.

All the places chosen by the carers are rich in history and heritage and have a warm familiarity that enables busy people to take a breath. As simple as it seems those moments are what can keep people together when they are most tested.

Through this project two things were consistently highlighted by carers.

One we are all only one incident away from being cared for or becoming a carer. Two with the right support, carers are warriors.

With thanks to the Heritage Fund and all the venues who accommodated the photographs.

Oxford House, Sonali Gardens Day Centre, London Buddhist Centre, Tower Hamlets Council for Stepney Green Clock Tower and Victoria Park, Genesis Cinema, Good Samaritan and The Carers Centre.

All photographs were taken by Rehan Jamil.


Gloria at St Hildas Sonali Centre

“You have to try and stay positive.”

Aged 83, Gloria seeks solace and community at her weekly Tai Chi class at the Sonali Gardens Day Centre.

“I always look after myself, Tai Chi is very good for older people like myself. It stretches your muscles and helps your mind.”

Heritage Fact: St Hilda’s has been working for Tower Hamlets community for over 130 years. Sonali Gardens Day Centre is at St Hilda’s second site in Shadwell, it offers person centred care for Tower Hamlets residents.

Brian at the London Buddhist Centre

“I went to meditation as I was encouraged to go and I’m glad I did.”

Brian has lived in Tower Hamlets all his life. He grew up in Poplar and was a bus driver until he gave up his job to be a carer for his parents. He found tthe role of carer very difficult, but through Tower Hamlets Carers Centre, he discovered the London Buddhist Centre and meditation.

Heritage Fact: The London Buddhist Centre opened in 1978 and is located in a striking redbrick building completed in 1888. It was formerly a fire station used by the London Fire Brigade until 1969.

Virginia at Oxford House

“Carers understand carers.”

As the sole carer of her son who requires 24/7 support and a single parent Virginia was balancing these demands with holding down a job.

“Oxford House is just few minutes from my home. It’s a nice walk across the park to get here. It’s a lovely building and environment with great coffee.”

Heritage Fact: Oxford House was established in 1884, and was the first “settlement house” to open in London. Here, students from Keble College, Oxford, would undertake a period of residential volunteering.

Sharon at the Stepney Green Clock Tower & Water Fountain

“I sit down take a breath and watch everyone go by.”

Sharon is a busy woman. She is her son’s full-time carer and chair of the Carers Centre. One of the reasons she loves living in Tower Hamlets is the
chance to discover the rich heritage sitting right on her doorstep.

Heritage Fact: The tower was moved into the area in 1934 and then went onto survive the bombings of the second world war. The fountain was built in the eighteenth century so the poor could have clean running water.

Debra at Victoria Park

“My mind feels clearer when I am in green spaces and near water.”

Debra’s mum was diagnosed with dementia four years ago, Debra moved her into her home and has been her carer ever since.

In loving memory

Sadly Maisie Lilian Campbell passed away on 2nd April 2020.

“My role as a carer grew organically, when I need to clear my head I come to Victoria Park.”

Heritage Fact: Victoria Park is London’s oldest public park and was given to the people of east London by Queen Victoria. A consistent Green Flag Award winner it has been voted as one of the UK’s favourite parks for the last six years.

Richard at the Good Samaritan Pub

“I found it much easier to process my thoughts here.”

When Richard’s mum had a stroke he became her main carer. His mum would often be treated in the Royal London.

He found the buzzy and bright hospital environment incredibly stressful, but found refuge in the Good Samaritan Pub.

Heritage Fact: The Good Samaritan Pub was established in around 1785 and rebuilt in its present form in 1937. It has been providing warmth, refreshment and a listening ear for those visiting loved ones as well as the hard working hospital staff for many years

Lisa at the Carers Centre

“With the right support we are warriors.”

Lisa wanted to be photographed at West India Docks, but life had other plans. So instead we photographed Lisa at the Carers Centre.

“It makes sense for me to be photographed at the Carers Centre because it saved me when I was at point of crisis.”

Heritage Fact: West India Docks was one of London’s first purpose built docks, and became one of the busiest docks in the world. The docks were formerly closed for trade in the 1980’s.

Rifta at Genesis Cinema

“It’s a place to escape and forget about yourself.”

In 2019 Tower Hamlets Carers Centre set up a support group for young carers. Looking after others when you are growing up yourself, can be overwhelming. 

The group brings like-minded people together and creates a space for young people to share what’s on their mind. When asked how they unwind, when they get the chance, the group speaks fondly of going Lto Genesis cinema.

Heritage Fact: Genesis has been used for entertainment purposes since the mid-19th century. The first building on the site opened in 1848 and was a pub that turned into a music hall. Today it is an award winning independent cinema loved by its community.

Get in touch

The Carers Centre
21 Brayford Square
London, E1 0SG

020 7790 1765

Opening hours

Monday - Friday – 9.30am – 5pm
Saturday and Sunday – Closed

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