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Q&A: Andrea Popeau-Thomas, careers coach at the University of East London

PUBLISHED: 17:00 08 December 2017

University of East London

Having lived in the borough for more that two decades, Andrea Popeau-Thomas is excited about the future as Westfield and the Olympic legacy keep Newham ‘on the map’

What’s your connection with the borough?

I have lived here since 1995, first with my parents and later buying my own home.

What’s the best thing about working or living here?

Recently, the opening of Westfield. It’s resulting in more employment opportunities, especially for students.

Also, it’s an easy commute. I sometimes walk to work, weather permitting. The Olympics and Westfield definitely put Newham ‘on the map’, in terms of being ‘an area of excellence’ and it was exciting to watch.

People assumed that after London 2012 the ‘buzz’ would dissipate. Well that hasn’t happened, in fact if anything it’s grown in stature.

What one thing would you change?

I still think people have certain perceptions about east London, especially Newham. How it was 10 or even 15 years ago is so different to now in terms of local ammenities, access to opportunities and education.

I’d like to see more investment in further and higher education. Recently other universities have been opening up subsidiary campuses in London.

Newham needs to ensure the local university and colleges are supported so that they can continue maintaining academic excellence.

Use three words to describe the area.

Unpredictable, eclectic, exciting.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

Architect Sir David Adjaye OBE – amazing talent and inspirational. His quote of ‘For me, architecture is a social act,” comes across in his work.

He is humble, which says a lot about the man.

What new law would you introduce if you were the prime minister?

Cap politician’s expenses and reduce child poverty. Some parts of the UK are like Dickensian Britain. Countless governments have pledged to tackle child poverty, yet it seems to be increasing year on year.

The juxtaposition between the haves and have-nots in society has seldom been addressed so I hope new laws at last make some in-roads in addressing this inequality.

If you were the editor of this paper, what issues in the borough would you focus on?

Crime – still a worrying issue.

More focus on supporting independent businesses, more affordable housing, articles highlighting women’s achievements and concerns, plus more funding for the arts – upgrading Theatre Royal Stratford.

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