Sister Moira and Sister Margaret are true community builders making an exceptional contribution on a housing estate suffering from multiple deprivation. The two nuns moved from their convent in 2003 to live in one of the most deprived housing estates in Essex. Their aim was to provide a constant supportive presence in the community by organising a range of activities to address local priorities such as child poverty, low income, poor educational attainment, elderly isolation and fear.
They decided the best way to address the issues would be to live in the community as ordinary residents and experience the local difficulties at first hand, becoming accepted by the residents. As they settled in to the area, they gained the confidence and respect of local people, attracted a significant number of volunteers to help in their work and embarked on modest fund-raising to support their work tackling local social problems.
Essex Community Foundation has provided some funding to help establish a range of clubs and activities - all aimed at improving the social welfare of residents. From homework and learning clubs to 'toddler' groups for young children and their parents, a social companionship group for older, isolated residents, cookery classes, projects to address teenage pregnancy, assist lone parents, tackle substance dependency and improve poor literacy.
The two nuns have transformed their local community, who have shown appreciation and commitment to their work by joining them as volunteers, allowing them to extend the activities to the wider community. Local people continually turn to the nuns for assistance and support – eloquent testimony to their exceptional contribution to the community.