Sir Ian McKellen: Wharf firms should pitch in
Legendary actor Sir Ian McKellen believes Canary Wharf companies have a responsibility to the area around them.
The Narrow Street-based stage and screen star visited the nearby Limehouse Youth Centre to view an art competition run by charity City Gateway.
More than 50 entries have been submitted so far to be judged by young people, Wharf workers and residents.
Sir Ian - who recently finished a theatre run of Waiting for Godot with Patrick Stewart - has visited the centre several times in the last couple of years, and argues that Canary Wharf has a similar "duty" to help out.
He said: "They're lucky to be here. In many ways, they're the outsiders in this community.
"There's a tradition of people with money helping the local community, especially in this part of London, and they should be aware of the local residents.
"They can be stuck in all of this new development, and around them - if they just looked out of their windows - on street level there are people who need help through no fault of their own. City Gateway clearly can be the link.
"They have a duty, even in this economic time. It's good neighbourliness really."
Sir Ian popped into the centre last year to record a Shakespeare sonnet over a hip-hop track. Fans will be able to catch his turn as Number Two in the ITV remake of The Prisoner in November, while he will be off to New Zealand in 2010 to make two films adapted from JR Tolkien's The Hobbit. He says his appearances at Limehouse Youth Centre give him the feeling he has "a right to live" in his adopted neighbourhood.
He said: "I used to walk past the centre going to the DLR, but I never looked in. Sometimes I used to cross over to the other side of the road to avoid groups of people.
"Now I've come here, and I'm hanging out with them and the police, and it's great.
"It feels extremely relaxed but focused at the same time. Everyone seems to know why they're here.
"I guess it's opened my eyes to my own community."
City Gateway works with over 20 large firms on projects from team volunteering days to individual mentoring and work placements. The City Gateway Women's Project is also launching a "literacy lunch", largely targeted at women in the Bengali community.