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A little over 12 months ago West Lodge Drive in the heart of Gloucester was a very different place to the community there today.
The cul-de-sac was plagued with fly tipping and there were regular disputes between residents and the council when it came to things like bin collections and getting the communal grass area regularly mowed.
With the support of housing manager Becky White, resident Stephen Morrison who lives on the street with his wife and two-year-old daughter decided to step in and make some positive changes.
“The street had a bit of a bad reputation before so I set up a dedicated Facebook group for residents as a way of bringing the community together and it has really helped to turn things around,” the 54-year-old said.
West Lodge Drive Tenants Group was born and more than 30 residents from the same street are now members of the page and regularly communicate to each other online about local issues and community events and initiatives.
Stephen, who ran a similar residents association when he lived in Cheltenham, said: “It probably isn’t the solution for every community but Facebook is the way of communicating around here so we set it up and it just spread by word of mouth. We eventually thought if we can’t get the appropriate authorities to fix things we better come together and do it ourselves.
“We now use it to update people on what’s happening, organise litter picks, shopping trips and other local events. Through the page we had one lady come and clean all the gullies on the street which hadn’t been done for years and we’ve also used it to update people on a door painting initiative recently. If there are any issues which aren’t of a personal nature then people will post it to the page and then I’ll raise it with Becky instead of her hearing off half a dozen people – it works really well and our community has really come together and looks a lot cleaner visually since the page launched.”
Becky said: “It has been great to see customers taking pride in their properties and positively communicating with their neighbours to take on challenges which affect them as a community.
“The scheme is rubbish-free due to customers regularly litter picking and frontages are now appealing with hanging baskets and pot plants. The scheme has been really transformed over the last year or so and this is down to the dedication of customers like Stephen.”
And what about any advice for communities facing similar challenges? Stephen has these very simple words of wisdom.
“If other communities want to experience similar results then I would really just say to people to get out there and help yourselves and people will follow and join in – it’s all about being proactive and taking a lead. Sometimes all it takes is that first step,” he added.