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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

7. Actions to help

In this next section we report back on the priorities and needs that residents in the estates outlined.

Table 29: Needs identified by estate residents for others and for themselves

What needs do others in your area have? Edward Woods White City Old Oak Total times mentioned
Things for kids to do 3 6 4 13
Shops and other facilities including transport 1 4 1 6
Community centre / community space / gardens 1 1 2
Help for elderly 1 1 2
Improved security – including CCTV 1 1
Support for parents 1 1
OTHER 2 (more training) 2
What needs do you have? Edward Woods White City Old Oak Total times mentioned
Shops and other facilities including transport 1 1 2 4
Community centre / community space / gardens 3 3
Improved security – including CCTV 2 1 3
OTHER 1 (lift in bock) 2 (more training) 3
Things for kids to do 1 1

Residents in all areas were worried about crime and anti-social behaviour, mainly by youths but also more generally.

Need more security staff and police actually on the ground, on patrol [WC 03]

More police and cameras, better maintenance for the flats and better security [WC 12]

Many of these concerns arose from feelings that there too many young people just hanging around and getting into trouble. Residents in all of the estates identified children and young people as being a clear priority for additional resources within their area. While there did appear to be facilities for youth in most of the estates, people expressed concern that they were not used much or that people weren’t aware of what was available, or that they weren’t well enough organised.

The adventure playground has very limited hours’No idea what has happened to the youth club, it just closed down, no idea what’s there now. [WC – adult female]

There was a youth club but its shut and it was only on once a week, you had to be over 13 and it only had a broken pool table! There should be a youth club with proper stuff and not broken. [OO – teenage female]

Young people themselves identified an unmet need for facilities and activities for young people and “things for kids to do”.

More for kids because if there’s more for them to do, they won’t get into trouble and then no-one will complain [EW14]

Things for children to do, because the better occupied they are then the better they will grow up. Could be staffed or for parents to use with their kids, either way would make a contribution – best if a combination of both. [WC 08]

More organised things for kids – the 15-16 year olds, even up to their 20s are up in the Scrubs at night smoking and drinking [OO 01]

Maybe a new youth centre as there’s nothing for young people to do at night, they just hang around – that’s the way it’s always been. [OO 03]

Frontline workers in the local area also highlighted the need to engage children and younger people.

“Having safe places that offer boundaries and challenges is absolutely vital. An appealing environment with clear boundaries – does sort out behaviour very quickly.”

Many residents specified the need for more community facilities for a variety of age groups including parents and older people who often experience isolation. Some residents, in particular in Old Oak, felt that the whole estate was isolated and cut off from the surrounding areas. Suggestions were made for community cafes and gardens.

People, particularly in Edward Woods and White City, emphasised the need to focus more attention and resources on the integration of new people to the estates. This links
to one of the things people liked most about their areas – the sense of community and knowing other people. Increasing understanding and communication between different groups and communities within the estates could help to break down boundaries and build on existing social capital.

Residents were generally happy with the appearance of their homes and the wider estates though there were some complaints about repairs taking too long and feeling that open areas and community facilities such as playgrounds were not maintained and supervised enough and therefore not used.

We asked residents about their greatest worries and concerns.

Table 30: Priority concerns of residents

What are your priority concerns Edward Woods White City Old Oak Total times mentioned
Better security and more police 10 10 9 29
Facilities for young people 6 8 6 20
Play space for children 7 6 5 18
Community cafes 2 4 3 9
Community gardens / spaces 1 2 5 8
Integration of different communities 4 3 0 7
Helping young mothers 5 0 2 7
More repair 2 2 1 5
Helping elderly people 1 1 1 3
OTHER 1 (helping homeless) 0 2 (dog litter) 3

NB. Some people had more than one top priority

The key priority concern across the estates was better security and more police presence, mentioned 29 times, that is by almost everyone we spoke to. This was followed very closely by the need for more facilities for young people and play space for children, mentioned together a total of 38 times.

These priority concerns were matched by what people said they would change if they were in charge with more things for kids to do and security coming top of the agenda.

Table 31: What residents would change if they were in charge

If you were in charge what would you change? Edward Woods White City Old Oak Total times mentioned
More things for kids to do 2 4 2 8
Security – more police and CCTV 2 4 6
Community centre / gardens 3 1 4
Shops and other facilities 1 3 4
Maintenance 3 1 4

Residents identified more things for kids to do as a pressing concern for others on the estate as well as the need for more shops and other facilities. Their own needs were similar: more shops and facilities including transport, as well as improved security and more community spaces both indoors and in the open air.

Security was the top concern for residents in all of the estates – male and female, young and old. However, in Edward Woods better maintenance of the blocks and the estate, and the creation of community gardens were identified as popular changes that residents would bring about if they were in charge:

Sorting out the maintenance – I was 6 months without a bathroom window! Everyone has problems here with Notting Hill, especially with mice because of the Westfield development. [EW 04]

I would put in place community gardens – everyone else has one, we’re the only ones who don’t have one and it’s not right. Actually our block is the last for everything. [EW 08]

The priorities for action were:

  • Play space for children
  • More police
  • Helping young mothers
  • Facilities for young people
  • Integration of different communities

Somewhere safe for kids to play under good supervision – put money into good staffing and activities / clubs [EW 01]

I think they could do so much for kids in the immediate area. I would change it mainly for the kids, so they have got things to do after school. [EW 03]

Things for youth to do. Only the Youth Club here and its not doing much. Maybe get a football team together so they’ve got something to do. The 12-18 year olds, they just hang around with nothing to do. [EW 06]

Facilities for young people – that’s the problem [EW 13]

The priorities for action in White City were:

  • More police
  • Facilities for young people
  • Play space for children
  • Community cafes

The focus on kids needing activities and places to go came through clearly when residents were asked what changes they would bring about and what funding priorities they would have if they were in charge.

I would spend money on kids. There’s nothing for kids to do during 6 week holidays so they get bored, as I do! [WC 06]

There needs to be more things for kids to do like youth clubs like “Feathers” club in Ladbroke Grove. [WC 03]

That’s probably all – for there to be more for young people really, for 11-15 year olds as there’s only a pub here and I don’t want to take the kids. [WC 07]

There were also comments about the need for more community provision – cafes and other spaces for all members of the local community as well as additional help for the most isolated and vulnerable – often the elderly.

Funding priority – meals on wheels style service for the elderly as it was cut by the council recently. [WC 10]

The priority concerns in Old Oak were:

  • Facilities for young people
  • Play space for children
  • More police
  • Community cafes / gardens / spaces

The changes that most respondents would bring about if they were “in charge” were to bring in more police and to have more facilities for children and young people.

More police around more often – they’re hardly ever here – they were here 2 years ago, and 1 year ago they made an effort. [OO 02]

Very important to clear up the streets. And then children’s activities in the holidays. [OO 07]

Parks for children to play, with swings and slides [OO 08]

In the following section we present six pen portraits from the estates based on our interviews with residents. They give a flavour of life on the estate and capture how residents feel about where they live and their homes and community.

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