ARTICLE: Power to Change - Dwaynamics Community Centre, London
September 3rd 2022, Dwaynamics Community Centre, Loughborough Park
It’s a glorious sunny afternoon in Loughborough Park, and crowds are gathering at the new Community Centre, opening its doors for the first time under new management.
Smiling faces of garlanded volunteers greet the 250 guests, mainly families with children, attracted by the beats of reggae music, children’s laughter and the smell of a barbecue drifting over the warm air.
This Community Centre has been derelict for 8 years, standing in the centre of the park gathering dust and weeds. Now its potential is coming to life, under the ownership of local boxing gym Dwaynamics, who have refurbished it beautifully.
It couldn’t have gone into better hands. Lorraine Jones, Director of Dwaynamics, has a vision for this place and she’s already putting it into action before the official opening.
Lorraine is a Community Leader, a Pastor, Mother and a Grandmother. She is the first to comfort grieving families who have lost their children to violence, a spokesperson on the News, TV and radio, and many times acts as a liaison between the police and the community.
Having lost her own son Dwayne to knife crime, Lorraine understands the pain that ripples through communities, and her journey since then, carrying on Dwayne’s legacy through the boxing club, has taken her on an extraordinary path of healing and forgiveness.
Under Lorraine’s guidance the Community Centre will be a local hub, a breakfast club, food bank, community kitchen, and a place of learning, relaxing, and training, with workshops for all ages on a wide variety of subjects.
Today is the pre-opening, a family event with bouncy castles, trampoline, face-painting by Wendy Lewis, carnival mask-making with Azaria Gairy-Newbolt, a popular BBQ thanks to Nichole Hogg, music from Tim Hain, Ennè and Ras Charmer, poetry from Errol McGlashan and a screening of the documentary Power to Change, which features some of Lorraine’s story.
Never has the film been shown to so many children, more than half the audience, but as most are directly affected by knife crime, there is no use shielding them from the topic.
This became especially obvious during the post-screening Q&A - many people in the audience had lost loved ones to violence, some very recently, and others were personal friends of Dwayne and his family. Power to Change has been shown in a lot of different locations, but none where the emotion in the room was so raw and so palpable.
But alongside the tears and pain, there was an incredible sense of hope and empowerment. One audience member said: ‘The film had such a deep resonance of victory. As you know, Dwayne was a loved soul, we’re never going to get him back in flesh but I can feel his spirit in this amazing movement. Where can we share it further? Because this is gold dust. And it’s real.’
The Mayor of Lambeth, Cllr Pauline George spoke afterwards and said: ‘This film has taught me a lot, it’s opened my eyes. One thing about this world is that it’s a lifelong learning process. You learn everyday. No one is born a criminal. We need to tell our children they can reach the highest, and to believe in themselves.’
The event concluded with reggae artist Ras Charmer, who took the feeling in the space and amplified it with his upbeat music and joyful lyrics that soon had people on their feet.
Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped on the day and made the event run smoothly. There will be more to follow at this wonderful new Community Centre when it officially opens in November 2022.
Photos by Christina Jansen