Ascension Community Trust helps the most vulnerable of our community in East London to live fuller lives. Our work supports families, the elderly and those with complex needs to learn new skills, find employment, step out of poverty and feel like valuable members of their community. We work within the Ward of Custom House in Newham. Our mission statement “enabling the whole community to make the community whole” means that we work with all members of our community and promote integration. Also that our work is holistic, we work with people not problems, supporting individuals to live fuller lives.
We grew out of well-established community work of Ascension Church and many of our projects pre-date the beginnings of the Trust in 2001. We have four main strands through which our work is done: Children and families, poverty response, Ascension Seniors and the Garden Community Café. Through these we work with over 1,200 individuals a year. Much of our work is in partnership with other local organisations, schools, churches and charities. Our aims includes: The relief of poverty, hardship, loneliness and isolation; Support of physical and mental health and wellbeing; Community integration, advice and advocacy work; Education, training and employment support.
Our Children and families project involves: a weekly football academy for ages 5-16, two week long holiday football projects, a two week summer scheme for children facing poverty, a holiday scheme for children with special educational needs, family events and fun days throughout the year and a five day a week after school club which will include free spaces for children facing poverty.
The Garden Community Cafe includes: accredited training and volunteering in hospitality and catering; healthy affordable and free food available for the local community; community events which encourage integration, including family craft projects, quiz nights, music nights and free evening meals; a weekly advice service addressing issues with benefits, housing, form filling and employment; work placements for adults with learning difficulties or mental health issues.
Ascension Seniors involves: A weekly hot three course meal for over 50s, a free community meal which makes use of supermarket surplus food, two weekly coffee mornings, a free chair based exercise class for over 50s, social activities, a garden project for adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues and an intergenerational toddler and parent group.
Our Poverty Response project involves: A weekly advice service providing support with housing, benefits, employment, form filling and more; A weekly food bank provided a weeks worth of food for those in the most severe financial need.
What We Love About Our Community
Custom House has a very interesting history associated with London Docklands. This means it has always welcomed people from all over the world. We continue to be in one of the most diverse boroughs in London. Our community is full of the most generous and caring people, those who are willing to give up time and money to support one another. We have a good network of organisations and schools working together to keep making improvements in our community.
The Issues Our Community Faces
According to the Indices of Multiple Deprivation  over half of Custom House lives in the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. All of Custom House is in the top 40% most deprived. We have seen much investment in redevelopment in the areas surrounding Custom House, yet it has remained mostly untouched. Many of our residents face challenges due to the growing inequality, lack of education, poor housing, low wages and rising living costs. Along with most of East London, Custom House is a very transient community, which means individuals often do not build long lasting relationships and loneliness is big issue. There is no real central meeting point in Custom House as it is mostly residential, which adds to the loneliness issue. Our community has also been affected by many cuts to public services, including mental health services and opportunities for adults with learning difficulties. As most of London has experienced, we have seen a rise in homelessness, food poverty and knife crime.