Working together for a stronger community

Lippy on Bin Day: Jacky

This story belongs to Jacky who lives on a street named Stonyfield.

Jacky has lived in Netherton for 52 years, long before regeneration initiatives began showing up in community space. In fact, she’s worked for all of them, mainly with children and always in care. That’s one of her passions.

She’s straight talking and honest too. She can tell you that a building that was created as a community room, by a local Sure Start programme, is now a classroom, and that the community childcare organisation that was created as part of a regeneration programme may no longer be as community focussed as it once was. She remembers too when the community centre was run by the community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacky gets involved in community life and is a great supporter of the community centre. Last summer she and some neighbours, supported by the Community Builder, tidied up a local space on Stonyfield, made planters and created a space where neighbours could meet together. A party was organised to celebrate when the job was finished and Jacky, was surprised by how many new people she connected with. “I’ve lived around here for years and there were lots of people I didn’t know.”

When lockdown was on the horizon it was only natural that Jacky would get involved in the community response in her street and across the village. She joined the gathering that the L30 Centre hosted.

Jacky cares deeply about local families and fun.

Alongside Rene, who works at the L30 Centre, throughout the pandemic, Jacky has been involved in making and sometimes delivering packed lunches.

“At first Rene and I made packed lunches for families with children who would normally be entitled to a Government Free School Meal. We were worried how lockdown and furlough may impact on families. Lunches were also delivered to some of the older residents living alone. This was a way for us to stay connected. Activity packs were also given out with lunches for the kids.”

“People come to the centre for the food bank too. We’ve noticed here that there seems to be a lot more men coming, more men furloughed and staying at home with the kids. The women seem to be working as key workers.”

We’ve had way more food than we needed. We’ve all been feeding each other really. Someone put on our commUnity Facebook group that they were struggling for food. They happened to live on my street, although I didn’t know them then. I made them a food parcel, with food from the food bank and left it outside of their door. I made a little card to let them know that it was a gift from the community. When they picked up the parcel I just let them know we cared and walked away. They posted on the Facebook group to say how overwhelmed they had been from all the gifts that they’d received from the community.”

Jacky has also been supporting Street Fitness with Suey. Suey and Jacky live on the same street. Jacky has been one of the people in fancy dress.

“It was Rene who got me involved in this. She said please come with me as it’s not the same on your own. So I did. We’ve been all kinds. A parent on our street told me how much it meant to her adult nephew. Mum and Dad shed a few tears. He waits every week for us. We can see by the way he reacts that he loves it. Mickey Mouse is his favourite.

We have a spot where we sit every week at a bus stop, take our costume heads off and have a drink and then put the music on and have a dance. People passing try to give us money. It’s become a lockdown tradition. The neighbourhood police wave and say hello too.”

“Once the street fitness started and we all started to chat together more, a neighbour came up with the idea of bingo. We all donated prizes and at first we got the bingo packs from the L30 Centre. Now we’ve bought our own tickets, as there’s a big demand for the Centre packs across Netherton. 56 people came out last week. We started it on Thursdays. Everyone brings their tables and chairs out and something to eat and drink. We have a kids game before the clap and then an adult game afterwards. If there’s more than one winner, there’s a dance off. All prizes are meant to just come out of what people have already got in their house, but some neighbours have been picking up prizes too when they shop. We’ve said as long as we have prizes we’ll play. It’s turned into a bit of a street rave. Everyone has a dance after the bingo and we turn the music off at 10.30pm. One of the neighbours was telling me about how much this means to her. It’s like going out she said. She said she was getting so fed up that she was putting her lippy on to take the bin out to cheer herself up.

Marie started to come too, she lives on one of the side streets and asked to do a spot the ball. She’s been raising money for Flame Spirit for years. Some of the money goes to the L30 Centre, some to the Flame Spirit and some for the winner. Marie follows the Street Fitness on her bike. She feels part of it. Everyone has met neighbours that they didn’t know before. We’ve all made new friends.

It’s definitely made me think about the future. Its much more than just a community centre now. Its here on the street, where we can be ourselves and do things our way. We might need a gazebo to keep it going. It feels like we’ll carry this on, maybe not every week, but definitely on special occasions”

“I was asked by a neighbour to help out with contact support (usually done through social workers) I know this has made a huge difference and would not have happened without the community centre. This neighbour has now become involved in street activities and also met new neighbours.”

“I’ve been making crochet rainbows too and selling them to raise money for the L30 food bank. There’s been a whole group of us knitting bees. Last week were were out and about, dressed as Bill and Ben giving them out with a packet of sunflower seeds and a poem. There’s also the Scrub Hub too, I’ve been part of that, sewing face masks for the centre and providing some for local care home staff and local residents. Netherton has lots of knitting and sewing skills out there. This has been a community effort that I am proud to be part of. You have to be the change you want to see in the world.”

 

Before lockdown Jackie was one of the local people who was interested in exploring how residents can take back control of their assets. Having experienced years of professionals and initiatives entering community space, she rightly feels sceptical.

This is a community that has shown how it demonstrates love and care for each other in ways that only neighbours can. It feels like this is the time to truly shift power? This community is ready and able and is inviting institutions that can walk alongside at the speed of trust to share their space.

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