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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

Executive Summary

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

Funding provided by HUC, Notting Hill Housing Trust, and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

1. Introduction

This report outlines the levels of deprivation and need in 4 areas within the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. These areas comprise 4 social housing estates: Edward Woods; White City; William Church and Old Oak.

The estates represent the three main types of council housing: Low-rise houses, known as inter-war cottage estates Blocks of brick-built flats, known as inter-war balcony block estates or walk-up block estates Medium and high-rise concrete blocks forming “modernist concrete complex” estates

We were commissioned by Hammersmith United Charities (HUC) and its project partners – Notting Hill Housing Group and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham – to carry out research in these estates to advise HUC in designing and targeting its grant-giving programme in its area of benefit = the former Metropolitan Borough of Hammersmith.

Chart summarising the characteristics of the estates Estate Conditions Facilities

Estate Conditions Facilities
Edward Woods
876 units – flats and maisonettes
  • Post-war high rise and low rise blocks
  • New Notting Hill / Countryside development
  • Attractive architecture in new developments
  • Well maintained
  • Edward Woods Community Centre
  • Local shops
  • Playground
  • Park and green space
  • Basketball courts
  • Evergreen Club
  • Good transport links nearby
White City
2,027 units – flats
  • Inter-war blocks
  • Dense
  • Well maintained
  • Many people around – felt safe
  • Attractive estate
  • Randolph Beresford Early Years Centre
  • Canberra Primary School
  • Nubian Resource Centre
  • Fatima Community Centre
  • Local shops
  • Pub and restaurant
  • Adventure playground
  • Church
  • Hammersmith and Fulham Homes North Hammersmith office
  • Health centre
  • Somali Women’s Resource Centre
William Church
116 units – flats and maisonettes
  • Very few people around on the estate
  • People from outside the estate using it as a place to gather and drink
  • Well maintained
  • Redevelopment work ongoing
  • Community meeting room
  • Playground
  • Green space
  • Close to local shops and amenities
Old Oak
1912 – 1923
900 units – houses
  • Cottage estate
  • Attractive housing
  • Conservation Area
  • Lots of people around
  • Old Oak Primary School
  • Old Oak Community Centre (currently closed for refurbishment but most activities relocated)
  • Old Oak Housing Association
  • Wormwood Scrubs – open space
  • Underground station (Zone 2) and many bus routes
  • Local shops

2. Measures of Deprivation

In the 2007 Index of Multiple Deprivation, Hammersmith and Fulham ranked in the poorest 20% of local authorities nationwide, and came 14th out of the 33 boroughs in London. Hammersmith and Fulham has pockets of deprivation, mainly in wards and areas where the majority of the council housing stock is concentrated. There are large disparities of wealth and deprivation within the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham with poverty and deprivation more concentrated within the north of the borough, i.e. Hammersmith rather than Fulham.

The four estates in this research are located within three wards of Hammersmith and Fulham; all three are within the North of the borough. White City and Edward Woods estates are within the most deprived 10% of all areas nationally. Old Oak is within the most deprived 20%. Hammersmith’s most deprived area is in White City and is ranked at around 6% on a national scale.

In general, people in the four estates we studied have poorer education and skill levels, poorer health and experience higher crime than the borough average,

Comparing Hammersmith and Fulham with Islington: To help understand problems in Hammersmith and Fulham we compare the borough with Islington. Islington is in many ways similar to Hammersmith and Fulham, with its extremes of wealth and poverty, mix of old and modern estates, and attractive streets and squares. Islington is much more deprived, ranking 8th nationally, and 4th in London on the Index of Multiple Deprivation, compared with Hammersmith and Fulham which is 59th in England and 14th in London. Nonetheless, the poorest estates in Hammersmith and Fulham are comparable to the estates we studied in Islington.

3. Talking to residents

We visited the four estates and talked to over 50 local residents and workers about the conditions where they live and have asked them to identify what needs exist, and what funding priorities they have. We talked to residents aged 16-80 from different ethnic backgrounds.

Residents were generally evenly split between those who would recommend their estate to others and those who would not. Shops and facilities were things people most liked about where they lived, along with a sense of community and knowing other people around the estate. But a lack of facilities was also mentioned as something that many people did not like. Other common problems included insecurity and drugs, youth hanging around, and the influx of different people.

People liked the sense of familiarity with the area and with neighbours, building social capital. They also liked local shops, open spaces, public transport, and community centres. Specific examples include Westfield shopping centre, QPR Football Team, and Wormwood Scrubs Common.

People were worried by:

  • Lack of facilities on estates e.g. no large supermarket, inadequate health services
  • Closure of key facilities e.g. youth clubs, luncheon clubs for older people
  • Isolation and feeling cut off – particularly in Old Oak and William Church – e.g. estates felt cut off and separate from the rest of the local area
  • Nothing to do, particularly, for young people e.g. problems of youth anti-social behaviour, noise and nuisance, feelings of fear and insecurity within estates
  • Not enough support for families e.g. more facilities and services for parents and young children

Residents’ top priorities were:

  • the need for better security, more police presence and supervision;
  • more facilities for young people and play space for children.

Activities for children and finding things for children to do affected everyone on the estate. For themselves, residents we spoke to wanted: improved security and more community spaces (indoors and outdoors), as well as more shops and facilities and better public transport;

4. Options for HUC

We examined options for a local charity wanting to help disadvantaged communities within a specific area of benefit. The London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has high social needs concentrated in its poorer estates which require action:

  • Young people and families with children are particularly needy, according to all age groups.
  • Council estates need more anchoring – community organisations can help in this by building social capital among residents through more support to local organisations, leading to stronger communities.
  • Local needs can only be identified if a skilled community worker is closely involved, making contact with needy groups, creating local support for community groups, and developing realisable plans.
  • An area base seems to be a basic requirement but the choice of location is unclear. It may be possible to join up with existing facilities and organisations on one of the bigger estates to create a community hub, from which the charity could operate, and provide community support that will build local community activities, enterprises, particularly focused on young people, families and open spaces.
  • Creating more play areas where they are missing and more youth facilities would help all sections of the community.

The highest priority for action by the charity is young people who fall between family and adulthood, who face important challenges in the local environment, poor skills for the new economy, job shortages and a sense of alienation. Their marginal position and disillusionment about their prospects has serious knock-on effects for all other sections of local communities and the wider society. Creating and maintaining safe play areas, green spaces and local activities for children, young people, families and the elderly would unify many local needs and give HUC a crucial role rooted in the most deprived areas.

Therefore we propose a combined effort by the charity to create a local community hub from which to run the charity and to support other community activities and groups. There is already valuable work underway in the estates we have studied with efforts by various organisations – both statutory and voluntary – to support these local communities. Our findings show that the resources, commitment and goodwill of the charity can add to these efforts in positive ways that fill important gaps in: Security Youth provision Play space for children and young people Family support

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