The first Street Association in Solihull, with the strap-line ‘love my street’, has been launched in Solihull.
Vauxhall Crescent, in the Cars Estate, Smiths Wood – an area known for multiple disadvantage – became the first group of residents to come together and say “let’s re-make real community here”.
At a meeting of Vauxhall Crescent residents over a barbecue, nearly 50 members of the community gathered and a dozen volunteered to be part of a core group to take the idea forward. Plans include a fireworks party and a family Christmas party, using nearby Aukland Hall. A street party in June, as part of The Big Lunch, is also being mooted. The core group has already had its first meeting to make plans.
Initial interviews with people from 40 homes in Vauxhall Crescent found that:
- More than half of residents knew 5 or fewer neighbours by name
- While residents each had an average of two real friends on the street, nearly half (45%) had no friends at all
- One in nine (11%) said they felt lonely or isolated
- 68% said they didn’t think there was a community spirit on the street, while 32% thought there was
- 81% said they would welcome an increase in community spirit.
The barbecue was a first step towards achieving an increase in community spirit.
Some residents remembered days when there had been far more contact, including things like a fireworks party. There was a widespread wish to restore what had been lost and an agreement that a Street Association would give the right framework to achieve that. Street Associations started in Birmingham three years ago and are now spreading around the UK. They include a partnership with Neighbourhood Watch, which is now an integral part of a Street Association, and also include a concern for the welfare of vulnerable people on the street, with neighbours being happy to offer, or ask for, help when it’s needed.
The Vauxhall Crescent event was sponsored by Solihull Council.