Oldbury Court Community Development

Oldbury Court is a social housing estate, built after the second world war, in Fishponds on the east side of Bristol. It is approximately 1,000 homes and on indices of multiple deprivation (IMD) an area (Lower Super Output) falls within the bottom 3% for England. The community centre has closed and the local pub is run down and a year ago there were no community groups and spaces for people to come together as neighbours, share experiences, ideas and to be able to create things together. But despite the neighbourhoods deficits and the hardships people face, it is also full of people who have interests, skills and passions who want to make a difference where they live.

“I am going door knocking because I want to bring the community together to create a better environment. So far, people have been very welcoming and positive about getting involved. Not everyone is interested but that’s alright.” Said one of the grup members, Chrissie.

A group of neighbours started holding events on the local greenspaces to bring people together and then have gone door knocking around Oldbury Court. They have been asking their neighbours what they are interested in and looking at ways they can connect people together with similar interests to start community activities, building stronger social networks and for people to take action on issues which they care about. This work has been citizen-led but has been supported by the Care Forum Asset Based Community Development Project funded by Bristol Ageing Better. The project focuses on older people but realises that community life is more than that, it’s about bringing everyone from all different backgrounds and ages together.

A year on and this is their story from the older people involved…

Two older people, Veronica and Chrissie have been involved in door knocking and have helped organise a couple of events in their neighbourhood and Chrissie has helped organise a street party. They went and pitched for funding and were awarded £1000 to organise a food sharing event as part of food connections week in June. They went and knocked on neighbours doors to get people interested and to encourage people to come and share a dish from their country. Together with other residents they talked to over 150 households.

Around 80 people came and joined them on the local greenspace and a feast was shared bringing many people together from different cultures. This hasn’t been seen in Oldbury Court for years, an event solely organised by neighbours for neighbours. Young people played games such as sack racing, three legged race and tug of war. They bounced on the bouncy castle or got their face painted while parents talked and shared food together.

 

Veronica

“My main thing is to bring people together, youths and elders. To me, it’s like this community hasn’t got anything to bring people together. People are shut in their houses and they haven’t got anywhere to go. My thing is sports, I’m mad for sports, any sports like cricket, running etc. That’s how I got involved putting on a few activities for the youths. I would like to have a youth club for children living in Oldbury Court. Maybe we could find the next Usain Bolt? I would like to support young-people to get more opportunities and to develop themselves further.

It makes me really happy to get together with people at our events, interacting together. It makes me feel like I belong to the area as well as doing something positive at the same time. It’s made a difference to me, I’ve met new people and I look forward to us getting together. It’s made a difference to our community, bring new people together, having events and having lots of fun. I hope people take it in their stride and get involved in what we are doing. It’s about participating and getting involved, building friendships and a stronger neighbourhood for the people and ourselves.”

 

Chrissie

“I was new to the area and I wanted to get to know people, the character of the place and the characters in the place. I’ve been engaging with neighbours through door knocking and the coffee group and letting people know what activities are taking place and encouraging people to become involved. It has given me a sense of purpose as well as a few meaningful activities to undertake. I think it has encouraged people, especially older people, who might be social isolated, to think about what they can contribute and to have some companionship.”

 

Friends of Oldbury Court

Through door knocking different people talked about how there weren’t any meeting spaces for people apart from the pub and that didn’t appeal to everybody. There was nowhere for local people to come together and some people talked about how they didn’t get much social contact during the week. Through these conversations five local people came together who shared a similar interest and the Friends of Oldbury Court was born. They wanted to create a space where they could meet their neighbours, have a cuppa and build friendships. They looked for a venue and the local children’s centre offered them a free space. The Care Forum purchased a selection of teas and coffees and the essential biscuits! Posters were designed, printed and delivered to every household and they now host a monthly coffee gathering. Chrissie and a few other residents have been organising the monthly coffee gathering.

 

Jerry

“When my neighbours knocked on my flat and asked what was I interested in and would I like to do something, I was interested to get involved ‘cause it would help me get out of the house, give me something to do, meet new people and help the community. I’ve been involved in the coffee gathering where we have a good chat and think about what else we could do in the neighbourhood. It’s been brilliant and we get more people to join us each time we hold it. It’s made a lot of difference to me, I’ve met new people and we’ve helped bring other people together. I would like to see a little park down by the shops or other activities for children. If they have more things to do there will be less damage around the neighbourhood.”

 


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