This post features material by Syeda Islam, Helen Garforth and Sandra Munoz
Residents young and old came to York Gardens Library on Thursday, June 14 to share their thoughts on how best to make a positive difference to their neighbourhood. More than 400 people contributed to this energetic and well-organised community consultation on how to spend a Big Lottery Fund grant of £1,000,000 over the next 10 years.
The guests, in bright sunshine, were greeted by the Falconbrook School Steel band and the Sacred Heart Choir, in the lovely gardens in front of the library.
The place was buzzing with various stalls and activities brought by local organisations – in the Library and also at Providence House, the Adventure Playground, and Pennethorne Square. A smoothie bike was available for all to “exercise” their way to a healthy drink.
A huge map of the local area was laid out on a central table and people were asked to leave their ideas and vision for the community. By the end of the evening, every road on the map was festooned with blue sticky notes, each representing an idea. A video diary was also available for those who were keen to star in a forthcoming film of the event.
Even the children were included in the fun. Activities ranged from face painting to games, but the highlight was to ‘paint’ their ideas on an extended canvass. Adding to the long list already generated by mums and dads!
Food and drink were available to all and guests were invited to walk across to Levi Roots’s for his special jerk chicken with peas and rice. Levi was on hand to offer his support to this event.
There was a great rapport of solidarity in the room which was filled with people from all ages and the diverse ethnic make-up of the area. Jane Ellison MP together with councilors serving the patch attended to show their support.
WHAT DID WE LEARN ON THE DAY?
Two questions were asked at the ‘graffiti wall’ consultation in the main hall of the Library and here is a summary:
What I love about the area where I live is…
• Lots of places to play
• Great transport links
• The community spirit
• The diversity
One thing I’d like to change about the area?
• Expand on youth clubs
• Cross generational event/discussions for all ages
• Training opportunities for young people
• Outdoor gym for adults
• Safe play areas for all ages
• Church and community to work together
• Old and young to support each other more
• More parking
• More plants and green areas, maybe even a dog park
• More community spirit/consideration for others
• Start advertising local jobs to local people
• More police patrols
• Free swimming lessons for kids aged 4 and up, also for disabled people on benefits
• Crank up the security and crack down on anti-social behaviour
• Free guardian newspaper back
• Affordable crèche
• A community café run by local workers and/or volunteers
• A proper community centre
• More networking among local groups
A group of young people from Thames Christian College devised a survey and went round interviewing people, mainly children and young people. Here’s a summary (number of responses in brackets):
Community Spirit 6
The people/neighbours 4
Community activities/events 3
Youth Clubs 3
Easy access to get around 3
Nice/lively area 2
Football pitch/exercise machines 2
The love 1
No place for 13 – 17 yr olds to play 1
Kids bad 1
No police 1
How to improve?
New playground area/centre 10
Less crime/security/safe/police help 8
More activities for children/youth 7
Youth Clubs/centres 6
Improve how area looks 3
Football – goal posts/astroturf/access to 3
More community/family things to do 2
More open area 2
Services to support children & elderly 1
Exercise machines 1
More books 1
The other map was placed in the centre of the room, and as people talked about the area, they summarised their ideas for change on post-its – here is a summary of those ideas, most popular at the top:
Keep York Garden Library open
Keep York Garden adventure playground open and free
More flowers and vegetables to be grown – allotments somewhere
Dog area in York Gardens
Set up a charity that will replace services taken away from York Gardens Adventure Playground, with the addition of homework clubs
Community Café on York Gardens park would be excellent! Mums in the day, internet café in afternoon, themed evenings, volunteers/work experience/ex offenders
Redevelop properties that are run down
Deal with the windows in the blocks
Dog behavioural courses/agility areas for dogs
Dog free area in York Gardens
Need better security and a barrier to stop mopeds and bikes getting into York Gardens
More sports facilities
Skate board park for 11+
BBQ area please
Mermaids and butterflies
Have a Centre purely for community life
Make York Gardens a hub for groups etc
Family fun days
Water fountains and drinking fountains
For young people
More youth clubs for 11 – 18
Break dance classes in summer holidays
Mentoring young people
More good role models
Funding for St Marks ‘Spear’ Centre working with NEETs
Affordable child care
Better and cheaper baby sitting services for disabled children
More suitable play areas for under 8’s
Internet shop with access for school kids between 3.30 – 6.30
Free drama lessons for 4 – 16 year olds
More low cost activities for under 8’s
More play centres and slides
Develop Falcon Park for more sporting activities
More affordable trips
Have a P.H.A.B club for disabled children
Free swimming for 4 – 17 year olds
Community art workshop to paint the area
More local trading units + storage units
Community facilities for 20 – 45 year olds
Community choir, singing lessons
Links with Howen Lodge (old people’s housing) + younger people
Programmes to support people out of work and boost spirit
Parenting classes for adults and for teens
Self defence classes
Life skills/music workshops – girls learning self respect/how to be
a lady/dress. Boys same and how to be a gentleman/man. Both: sex education!
Unemployment (creche facilitie)
Home work clubs
Catch up clubs
Basic skills training pre-apprenticeship
The process was very positive and incredibly useful: I plan to work on these priorities in the Town Hall whatever impact the Lottery Funding has. It is also worth noting that when the council organised a consultation on the £100m estate regeneration scheme, also at York Gardens Library, it attracted fewer than 10 people. Community-led consultations are clearly the way forwards!
The group of volunteers who pulled together to organize this event with the guidance of Big Local Rep Helen Garforth were very pleased with the turnout. “We want to ensure that all parts of the community are not only consulted but involved in this important decision making process”, said Helen. A partnership led by residents is beginning to develop which will manage the project over the next 10 years and beyond – it’s open to all who live and work in the area.
Local businesses contributed towards the event and special thanks from the organisers go to the Levi Roots, Bookers Battersea, Asda Clapham Junction and Tesco Falcon Road for their generosity. And to Wandsworth PCT for their health advice and activities.
For more information on the Big Local SW11and to get involved contact the team of local residents at email@example.com. The above event was simply a consultation, not a completed and comprehensive assessment of people’s opinions.
Some frequently asked questions as you talk to others about Big Local
How do I get involved?
Email biglocalSW11@gmail.com and ask to be put on the mailing list, and ask any questions, or come to the next meeting.
Who is leading Big Local here?
You could be! A group of residents and organisations has been working with Helen, the Big Local Rep assigned to support Big ocal SW11 through the early stages. Big Local will be taken forward by a resident-led partnership – so get involved!
What about the money?
It’s Lottery money, not Government money. The area has been allocated £1 million to invest over 10 years. The resident-led partnership will build on all your ideas to create a plan for how best to use the money
And the Council Regeneration programme?
Totally separate, but there will be opportunities for working together. Wandsworth Council are very supportive of Big Local, but not driving it.
What if someone asks a question about Big Local I can’t answer?
You can try another member of the planning team, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
And to find out more about Big Local nationally, see www.localtrust.org.uk