If things don’t go well for the Willows estate, it won’t be for want of trying whether by local people or by professionals. I was at the monthly Freshney Forward meeting last night and was reminded of this yet again. There was some concentration on other aspects of the Ward (including the need to tackle an anti-social hot spot on Aylesby Park and the campaign to keep an ice rink in the area) but almost all the energy was coming from those who live on the Willows and those who support them.
Whereas grass roots groups either quickly flourish and then disappear or simply don’t appear at all in most other parts of the parish, groups and volunteers on the Willows do seem to bed in. Members of our former Bishop Edward King Centre contribute every week to activities in the old church building. Those who developed the garden behind the church have been at work in it yet again - I took the picture in there before the meeting. The TARA (Tenants and Residents Association) have a new poster up with photographs of members of a strong and large committee. It and Freshney Forward together have a mini-carnival planned for later this month. These partners and local Councillors demonstrated how they are all getting stuck into several real issues.
And of particular interest to me was also the shift to a ‘neighbourhood management’ approach by the local police who made a presentation. They have realigned their areas to match local Wards so that they can work better alongside Forward groups and Councillors. They have identified three priorities from local people in each Ward (the anti-social behaviour hot spot on Aylesby Park is one of them) and are trying to shift resources to tackle these. They are holding a monthly multi-agency meeting for a five Ward area to see whether different people (such as social housing providers or youth services) can respond in different and complementary ways to the most pressing needs.