50 Years, 50 Faces: Peter Laing
“I started as Chief Executive of the Renewal Programme on the 16th March 2020, on the first week of the Covid-19 national lockdown; this was a real baptism of fire as there was so much uncertainty and many things to learn, do and adapt. In many ways I am thankful for this as it helped me to get to know the organisation, as well as our fantastic team of Trustees, Staff and Volunteers much more quickly and fully than would otherwise have been the case.
Although I’m relatively new to the Renewal Programme, Newham – as a borough – is very dear to my heart as I grew up and have worked all my adult life here.
Coming into the role of CEO of the Renewal Programme, I was very aware of the excellent work of the charity over the years, and I want to put on record my sincere thanks to my predecessors: Paul Regan, Ann Easter and Ruth Bravery. Alongside them, I’d like to thank all previous staff and volunteers of the charity for the strong foundations they have laid over the years – I certainly feel that I am standing on the shoulders of giants!
For my part, becoming the first black Chief Executive of this vital local charity was, and still is, a very proud achievement for me.
Across the board, our work supports more than 3,000 people each year, and has conservatively touched the lives of over 100,000 people during our 50 years of existence – incredible!
When a charity has been around for 50 years, and is still thriving, it says two things to me; firstly, there is still a great need for the work, which there sadly is, but also that we must be doing something right.
One of the golden threads that continues to run through our work for 50+ years is empowerment, which is one of our current core values. For some people, this is a bit of a dirty word, suggesting some people having power which they somehow confer on others. I’d like to confirm that this is NOT our definition. Empowerment cannot be forced, empowerment is a feeling. Our definition of empowerment here at RP is “helping people to feel confident in their abilities and encouraged by their circumstances so that they feel motivated to work towards their goals.” This definition aligns very well with our new mission statement, which is “to stand alongside those who struggle, inspiring hope and offering opportunities for connection, growth and progress“.
Our 50th celebration is about marking past achievements, but it is also about looking forward to our future – you can’t drive a car by looking in the rear view mirror. We have recently launched a new three year strategy that sets out our plans for the future, which we have called ‘Double Down, Rise Up‘, because we recognise that it is going to be a difficult journey ahead, that will require the very best of us all.
Having thanked our staff, trustee and volunteer teams, I also need to challenge them and myself, to continue to bring our best selves to the Renewal Programme every day. Last but by no means least, I would like to say a huge thank you to the wide range of partner organisations, funders and individuals that have contributed so significantly to our journey. We owe you a huge debt of gratitude, but also need you more than ever before.
Here’s to the starting point of our next 50 years as we seek to co-create vibrant and integrated Newham communities, where everyone has access to suitable jobs, homes, health and education.”