Chiswick residents set to be recognised in One Hounslow Community Stars awards

Image: Cllr Shantany Rajawat presenting last year’s Community Stars awards

Youth worker Billy Beatty and Karen Liebreich MBE to be recognised at ceremony on 15 July

Two residents from Chiswick are set to be recognised in the 2024 One Hounslow Community Star awards later this month.

The event, organised by Hounslow Council, recognises residents, groups, organisations, and businesses who have gone above and beyond for the community.

Among those who will be recognised are Billy Beatty, a youth worker for the Hogarth Youth & Community Centre, and Abundance London founder Karen Liebreich MBE.

Neither will know what award they have won until they receive their commendation at an awards ceremony on 15 July, joined by other winners, various Hounslow councillors and the Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Shantanu Rajawat.

Billy is a contender for the ‘Young Leader’ award, given to an under 25-year-old who goes above and beyond for their community or peers. He has volunteered with and then worked for Hogarth Youth & Community Centre since he was 15 years old.

Karen, the founder of Abundance London, is also one of the directors of the Chiswick Flower Market and was instrumental in restoring Chiswick House Kitchen Garden.

She is in the running for the Council’s Green award, for a person or who has driven change to improve their local area. There is also a Community/Neighbourhood award up for grabs, meant for a person or organisation which help their neighbours, encourages community spirit, and fosters a local support network.

Images: Hogarth Youth & Community Centre, Billy Beatty; Photograph Anna Kunst

“I’m honoured… it’s nice to be recognised but for me it’s all business as usual”

Billy has been a part of the Hogarth Centre since he was eight-years-old, along with his brothers and sisters. When he turned 15, Billy took on a volunteer role in the centre with some of his friends, giving his time until he was 18 when he was then offered a paid role helping disadvantaged young people in Chiswick.

The 22 year old, who also writes for The Chiswick Calendar, has just heard he achieved a First on his Journalism course at the University of West London. For the past year he has managed his time studying for his degree, writing for The Chiswick Calendar and working for the Hogarth Centre, where he sees a side of Chiswick many might not.

“People see Chiswick as a glamorous area, full of wealth, whilst in part they are right, there are small pockets of deprivation that we see on a regular basis. Deprivation can come in multiple forms, it can be the clothing a child is wearing, they’re not fed properly.

“It’s not for us to judge their parents, but it’s for us to allow them to have that safe space where they can feel happy, they can do things and achieve things that without us, they wouldn’t be able to do.”

Speaking after finding out he had won an award, Billy told The Chiswick Calendar he was honoured to be recognised but for him it was just businesses as usual.

“It’s about getting on with it, we’ve got the prospect of a new government possibly… I’m eager to see what they promise for youth services it’s something that’s chronically underfunded and and the lack of youth services has a dominant effect on everything when it comes to children.

“You’ve got kids running around with knives, thinking it’s okay to steal all the time and that can’t be the case. That’s because, I’m not sticking up for them, but they have nowhere to go. They’ve bored and there’s a glamorous sort of enticement to [crime]. You’ve seen an increase in County Lines drugs, people get involved in that now.

“When I was younger there was a lot more youth services, but now kids feel they almost have no choice but to get involved.”

Image: Karen Liebreich MBE; photograph Anna Kunst

“Any small impact I might have would be impossible without all the volunteer teams around Chiswick”

Well-known in Chiswick, Karen has been instrumental in leading Abundance London, which focuses on enhancing green spaces, promoting biodiversity, and involving the community in sustainability efforts.

Under her leadership, Abundance London has taken part in various urban greening projects across Chiswick, including planting fruit trees, creating community gardens, and beautifying public spaces with wildflowers and plants.

“We’re doing more and more because we’ve got more and more gardens. They don’t say what [the award] is for, but the good things I’ve done would be the Kitchen Garden, the Flower Market and Abundance, as well as little bits and bobs in-between, but those are the main three projects.”

On how it feels to be recognised Karen said:

“It’s lovely, its fantastic to be recognised and if it’s helpful in underlining the importance of biodiversity, climate change and beauty then that’s wonderful.

Quoting her catchphrase for Abudance London “Small, defiant acts of beauty”, Karen added:

“Any small impact I might have would be impossible without all the volunteer teams around chiswick, whether it’s the Flower Market, the Kitchen Garden or Abundance.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar