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Supporting communities, preventing social exclusion and tackling need

Supporting communities, preventing social exclusion and tackling need: a report to Hammersmith United Charities on four low income estates in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham by LSE Housing

Laura Lane and Anne Power, LSE Housing

June 2009

6. Reporting from the estates

In this section wereport back some of the feedback from residents on the ground about what they like and dislike about their estates and the needs and concerns they identify.

Table 26: Whether residents would recommend their estate to other people or not

Would you recommend this estate to other people? Edward Woods White City Old Oak Total
Yes 6 1 6 13
No 5 7 2 14

We can see from the table above that residents on the whole were evenly split between those who would recommend their estate to others and those who would not. Within individual estates however this was not necessarily the case with a large majority in White City saying they would not recommend it, and a majority in Old Oak saying that they would.

In Edward Woods, over half of the respondents said they would recommend the estate to others:

First impressions are bad but the estate’s improved a lot. Yes I’d definitely recommend it. [EW 06]

Yes, it’s very nice now [EW 12]

Those who would not recommend their estate often had strong feelings about the issue:

No, definitely no, there lots of trouble and no care of the area [EW 01]

Although most residents in

White City said they would not recommend the White Cityestate to others. Some responses were more vehemently against the estate thanothers:

Not at all. Nothing to like about it. [WC 03]

It depends on what you’re looking for – for people who’ve got nowhere else to go its okay and they are upgrading it a lot, they are really doing a lot of work to it. [WC 04]

On the other hand, some people reported that they enjoyed living on the estate, even though they might not recommend it.

I love it. It’s where I know, I’ve seen it over the years. It’s my home. [WC 02]

I’ve been here 12 years so like it but maybe not for everyone, particularly if they want a house or need more space than these flats. [WC 09]

Most people in Old Oak said they would recommend the estate to others:

Yes, I would encourage people to come here [OO 07]

It’s alright – though new people see it as rough. It’s ok when you live here. It’s like all places around Hammersmith and Fulham really. [OO 09]

One resident mentioned that there where differences within the estate itself.

It’s generally OK here but I wouldn’t want to be further into the estate. People from some parts are wanting to get out. [OO 06]

Shops and facilities were things people most often said they liked about where they lived, closely followed by the sense of community and the fact that they knew other people around the estate. This very localised view is common among estate residents. People tend to feel secure in the small local area they know and control.

Table 27: What residents liked about their estate

What do you like about the area: Edward Woods White City Old Oak Total
Sense of community / knowing people 5 3 4 12
Quiet 1 2 2 5
Shops and facilities 6 6 5 17
Transport 1 2 3

In Edward Woods, five respondents felt the most positive aspect of the estate was familiarity with other people there. Some residents mentioned the new Westfield shopping centre development.

I like the people – everyone’s very friendly. There is quite a good community spirit. There is an active tenants and residents association [EW 06]

There’s the nearby shopping centre – we can chill out there – but it’s expensive! I’ve gotten to know people here now.[EW 05]

The Community Centre and the Evergreen Club were frequently mentioned as valued facilities although the centre was said not to be used much.

The community centre has things for all ages but it’s not used very much[EW 09]

There is nothing for those over 25 years old. There is nothing at all for parents even though we’ve mentioned it at meetings. They have said we can get more but it will have to be paid for which isn’t right. There’s football for kids but unless it’s supervised it’s overtaken by Somalians, there’s a racist thing here with that. There is also nothing for youth and if there is we don’t get notified. And older people have Bingo at the Evergreen and they do jumble sales there too. [EW 03]

Almost half of the respondents in Edward Woods were 60 years old or above and cited the Evergreen Centre as a place they used.

I use the Evergreen particularly when I wanted to get away from the builders while they were doing up our block![EW 10]

A few respondents in White City mentioned familiarity with others on the estate as a reason for liking the estate. Others appreciated the quiet environment and the local facilities and the fact that everything was close by.

It’s a nice environment – it’s quiet. Sometimes there are teenagers fighting but it’s normally quiet. [WC 09]

It’s so compact. Everything’s on site – you don’t have to go far for anything [WC 02]

The local pub and restaurant were cited by many residents as valuable resources for adult resident and the adventure playground as useful for children. However, half of the respondents felt there were no facilities at all for young people:

For adults – there’s the pub, restaurants, betting shop and coffee shop. For all other groups – there’s nothing. [WC 01]

I go to the restaurant and pub. There’s nothing else here I use, I just go home if it rains, I don’t need much else. [WC 06]

For parents there’s the 1 O’clock Club which is alright as everyone goes and which is for up to 4 year olds. Under 10s its okay with the local park but for over 10s there’s nothing around here. There’s nothing here for young people apart from Westfield and we don’t like that for children to play. Older people meet at the 1 O’clock Club and Fatima and there’s a bingo and pottery. They do okay for older people. [WC 07]

Old Oak residents mentioned that there was a strong sense of community and familiarity with other people living there:

Along here, its established community, many people have been here 30-40 years! [OO 06]

I know most people, even older people although they might not recognise me now I’m older [OO 04]

People also appreciated the quietness of the estate and having the open space of Wormwood Scrubs nearby, though this could also cause problems with young people hanging around there at night.

I moved here because of the quiet and the community… Wormwood Scrubs is great, except at night when it gets noisy with young people.(OO 01)

We then asked about what people disliked. A top concern was lack of facilities suitable for young people.

Table 28: What residents disliked about their estate

What do you dislike about the area: Edward Woods White City Old Oak Total
Lack of facilities 2 3 4 9
Youth hanging around 1 2 4 7
Crime / drugs 4 2 1 7
Influx of different people 2 4 6
Appearance of estate 3 2 5
Noise 1 1

Despite residents identifying facilities as something they liked about their area, the lack of suitable facilities was also cited as something that people disliked. Some complaints were about the accessibility or quality of the community facilities. Other common problems included crime, drugs and youth hanging around, as well as the influx of different people.

In Edward Woods, crime and drugs were key concerns, followed by the lack of facilities and feeling that there was “nothing to do”, the influx of new people and the appearance of the estate. There was also some concern about the influx of “different” people to the estate:

Young people 12-16 year olds, mostly boys) on bikes at night. Youth are rude and shouting, running and they’re taking drugs and smoking. I think youth behaviour is a lot worse.[EW 04]

There’s not so much on here for good kids specifically, although there are lots of kids with problems around violence. I need somewhere where my children will be safe and happy. I don’t mind paying for it but I want it to be good for my boys. [EW 01]

Youth project but its not as good as it was – don’t do trips now and it closes early. The staff don’t do enough, don’t come out of there and tell the kids what is going on.[EW14]

There’s no youth facilities; well there is but its got nothing in it… other youth clubs have got them but we can’t go there cos those are other places. [EW – teenage male]

People have moved on to the estate, they’ve been put here and they are bringing it down because they don’t care where they live. The estate’s really changed.[EW 09]

Residents were equally split between those who considered the estate to be better than other estates and local areas, and those who felt Edward Woods was worse.

Holland Park is posh obviously, that’s the “snob side” to us. White City is safer because of security.[EW 03]

I think it’s a bit noisier here than other estates. I’m looking to swap. [EW 05]

I don’t mind it because l’ve lived here all my life, but times are changing and I think for people just coming in, it can be a scary place.[EW 04]

Its better here than White City and I know William Church is really not nice because of drunks and hostels nearby. [EW 04]

Overall residents we spoke to in White City offered quite a balanced view on their estate in comparison to others and suggested that it was on the way up.

My area compares quite favourably – it used to get lots of trouble but its better now. [WC 04]

It’s up there,definitely. It’s gotten better, particularly in the daytime though it’s still good at night time.[WC06]

The greatest complaint from Old Oak residents was about the lack of facilities and there being “nothing to do” on the estate, particularly for youth. This was frequently then linked with youth hanging about and causing anti-social
behaviour and crime.

There isn’t much here [OO 04]

Many youth hanging about with nothing to do[OO 03]

Most people felt there were very few facilities on the estate for a range of age groups. A big problem is the quality of what’s provided and its maintenance.

For young people there’s the football pitch -“the rubber”- but it’s always broken. [OO 04]

For young people there is a rubber pitch but it’s been ripped up and not repaired as if to say “You don’t deserve it if you don’t look after it”. It’s an eyesore now, it looks terrible [OO 03]

Some residents also emphasised that the estate itself and local area felt isolated and cut off from other places.

Really cut off because it’s surrounded by major roads. Feels totally isolated.[OO 09]

It’s really cut off from everywhere else. Even after 4 years here it feels isolated. [OO 10]

About half of the respondents said that they didn’t use any facilities on the estate and noted that there were limited amenities in the area.

Nothing really in the estate – there’s not really anything here… [OO 06]

Nothing, only the tube and the shops sometimes. There’s just nothing much around here.[OO10]

Many residents commented that no-one really refers to the estate as Old Oak anymore and that they identified with their estate as East Acton.

The estate is always called East Acton; don’t know why they call it “Old Oak” at all.[OO 03]

Overview: key assets and problems and areas for action

Below we provide a summary of the key assets and problems people mentioned.

Assets:

  • Strong sense of community – identity and familiarity with the area and with others who live there – social capital opportunities
  • Local facilities – including shops, open spaces, public transport, community centres.
    Specific examples included Westfield shopping centre, QPR Football Team and Wormwood Scrubs

Problems:

  • Lack of facilities on estates – some people specified the need for a large supermarket and health services, and mentioned the closure of key facilities such as youth clubs and luncheon clubs for older people.
  • Isolation and feeling cut off – this was most common in Old Oak and from what we have learnt about William Church. People felt their estates was cut off and separate from the rest of the local area.
  • Nothing to do, particularly, for young people – this criticism was widely linked to problems of youth anti-social behaviour including noise and nuisance and to feelings of fear and insecurity within estates.

Needs:

  • More support for families – more facilities and services for parents and young children
  • More for young people to do

When we put together all the views we gathered, it became clear that security, facilities and activities for young people and children, play space, come first in local people’s eyes. It is important to note that whilst many of the estates in this study and more widely may appear to be well served by community facilities and services, this may not be the case from the perspective of local people. Problems of access and awareness of what is available may prevent local people from taking full advantage of the facilities on offer. More work is needed ensuring that the most vulnerable and needy are able to

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