Pauline Wright is the owner of Sugar Mountain, located in Forest Hill, South London. The place presents itself as an old fashioned, English style sweet shop. Decorated with vintage articles directly from the 90’s, it has been a hot spot for recreational activities since 2012.
Pauline’s devotion to the community has had a huge impact in the management of local services, changing the nature of some of the most famous infrastructures in the area.
“Forest Hill’s Library used to be run by the Council” says Pauline “Me and some other shop owners managed to save enough money and helped make it community based.”
The library is now the centre of numerous free events ranging from origami classes for mixed ages adults, to “Lively Minds”, a group of residents aged 50 and over who meet for a talk about an interesting subject from a local expert.
Pauline successfully managed to organize a food festival in the surrounding area, where independent and local producers sell seasonal fruit and vegetables along with artisan bread and organic meat.
One of her most ambitious projects, Forest Hill Fashion Week, features established, up-and-coming designers. The festival uses an initiative, Pavement2catwalk, to positively engage disadvantaged local residents, including those affected by poverty, mental illnesses, abusive relationships and addictions. This has included a well-known designer stimulating the participants’ imagination by guiding them in designing original pieces of clothing. The main event, a catwalk, would then showcase their crafts.
The festival’s motto is “Creativity, Community and Culture”, aiming to exhibit local talents in a festival of fashion, design and craft. A number of volunteers through local shops and bars annually regenerate the area, stressing the importance of community spirit and cohesion.
Pauline’s community activities continue online through SE23.life, a virtual forum where activists share project proposals, keeping alive new ideas to further expand community activities. The system has become well known in the local area thanks to a unique “trust bonus” scheme.
Pauline verifies profiles of locals in SE23, help build trust on the forum through registrations at Sugar Mountain. The initiative is thought to strengthen community ties by facilitating the process of getting to know local people in a safe and friendly environment.
“I have always loved to do something good for the community” concludes Pauline “It is definitely the best way to enjoy the place where you live.”
Written by Jessica Ciucci