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Thomas Neumark is CEO of The Peel, a charity dedicated to building a connected community in Clerkenwell.

What is the reality of life in Clerkenwell?
All the world is here. We’ve got creative businesses, world class ballet and universities, and also people on very low incomes, all living cheek by jowl.

What does your work entail?
The Peel, the charity I run, has been building a better Clerkenwell since 1898. We provide services to the local community from our base in the 3 Corners Centre on Northampton Road. During the day we run a social club for people over 55, so if you want to do some gentle exercise, an art class, or have lunch in a welcoming environment, come along! In the evenings we run activities for the local community, including capoeira classes, code club, youth club and more besides.

What has your work taught you about the area?
That there’s a lot of deprivation here. It’s not always obvious if you’re having brunch on Exmouth market or having a meeting in Farringdon, but 4 in 10 children in Clerkenwell are growing up in poverty, and there are shockingly high rates of depression and overcrowding. Lots of people who work in Clerkenwell don’t even realise that there are people living here, let alone that they have serious challenges!

Is there a way to embrace gentrification and also maintain a healthy balance in the area?
The number of ‘AB1s’ living in Clerkenwell increased by 50 per cent in just 10 years, and that trend is going to continue, because people love the transport links and the local amenities. I think the question is “how can we best build a Clerkenwell in which the largest number of people benefit from living here?” That’s why The Peel is keen to work with anyone who lives or works in Clerkenwell to develop new projects or initiatives than can make a more connected community. 

If you could change one thing about the area what would it be?
I wish there were more activities that brought together people from different backgrounds. That’s something we’re working on, but it’s not something we can do by ourselves.

Where do you like to go in Clerkenwell?
Unfortunately I think I’m a bit too old for Fabric these days. But who doesn’t love Necco on Exmouth Market?

 

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