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Whilst Here East’s vision of the future is evolving, just as emerging technologies do, what doesn’t change is our commitment to placing local people at the heart of everything we do. Community has been a pillar of Here East since day one and will always remain the case.

This week we sat down with our Community and Partnerships Manager, Onaba Payab, to get her take on how our campus is constantly finding new ways to deliver a positive impact for our local area.


How is Here East pushing boundaries in social innovation?

Onaba: “Home to students and entrepreneurs alike, where world-class academic institutions share space with exciting tech startups and creative businesses, Here East is a place for innovators to convene and collaborate. The breadth of talent on our campus provides a golden opportunity to serve the local community, which has been at the heart of our vision since the very first day our doors opened.

“A huge focus of ours is to connect businesses and academia with the bright young minds of East London – helping push the needle on positive outcomes for local people and strengthen our bond with the community.

“Whether it’s introducing hundreds of local students to the digital skills and tech careers of the future or providing full financial support for scholars to study at the leading universities on our campus, our targeted education and career programmes are designed to empower the next generation of innovators and equip them for the future.”

What have been your highlights from the past year at Here East?

Onaba: “A particularly memorable moment was our Diversity in Tech event, ‘Breaking the Barriers,’ which highlighted the socio-economic barriers people face in entering the tech industry.

“I’m excited to see the next event in this series – ‘Power to create your own pathway’ which is taking place on June 10th – continue to build on this by empowering the next generation to carve out their own career pathway.

“Diversity drives creativity, and a varied workforce is more likely to deliver technologies better suited to our diverse society. The tech industry needs to stop isolating diverse communities and provide more training, apprenticeships, and work experience; focusing on the skills facing shortages and those in demand for the future.”

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What is your vision for the future of East London’s communities? How is Here East helping to create this?

Onaba : “East London has one of the youngest populations in London, and the area has become a focal point for the rise of technology, digital and innovation industries.

“The four growth boroughs – Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest – need tailored professional development programmes that are accessible and enrich children and young people’s knowledge of the technology and media sectors.

“To provide local people with the tools to learn digital skills and bridge the skills gap in East London, Here East opens pathways to new courses and careers for residents from ethnic minorities, working class, disabled and disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Why is this work important to you personally?

Onaba : “Growing up as a refugee and coming from a war-torn country, I understood that education was my sole weapon to transform my life and establish my place in my community.

“Having lived in a developing country and now transitioning to life in the UK, I have noticed that although the degree of struggle people face varies, the fundamental issues remain the same: a lack of opportunities for employment and education.”

“Channelling the passion of young people and creating positive pathways for them to utilise their potential not only helps them achieve their dreams but also assists the government by fostering a more skilled and productive workforce. More funding is required to upskill young people and the government needs to recognise the long-term economic and social value created by investing in young people.”

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