You could guess what problems there are on Main Street in Sparkbrook, but the only way to understand them is to meet the people who live there. And how to make things better? Active Streets and KIKIT are working together to support residents.It was my first day working with Olga from Active streets. We put the tent up and within a couple of minutes we started attracting the attention of passersby. We chatted with local people, confirming some of our first impressions but equally quickly confirming the value an Active Streets event could have in helping residents to help themselves.
Yes, there’s a litter problem. There’s fly tipping too. The broken barriers on the grass verge let quad bikes onto the small common grass space, and residents think drugs are sold along the street. If you stand there for more than five minutes, as we did, you also realise there is a pride in the area, and it’s history – we found out about Joseph Priestley living nearby and the old country estate houses long since demolished. We saw the families who live down the street, the local businesses prospering along the road, and listened to people talking about the isolation some people felt and the belief that no one cares about their street and their problems.
Active Streets and KIKIT can’t claim to solve all these problems, but ‘Playing out’ – closing the street to traffic for part of a day – can provide opportunities for play. It can also help provide a safe space for residents who want to share their concerns on Main Street, literally in their street. It can provide the stimulus to come together as a communities we live in.
Most importantly we can bring people together and support them to make their voices heard, to hold the Government, Council and other service providers responsible when necessary to provide the services needed, and to equip those people able and willing to make changes they need in their own community.
Find out more about Active Streets.