Comment: Looking at the positives and negatives of south Leeds

Holbeck Gala is a positive for the area

Here on South Leeds Life we always try to accentuate the many positive things that happen in our area – after all, there are plenty of other news sites all too ready to ignorantly run down our community, right?

There is a lot of positive stuff going on in the area, much of it unseen – a large number of hard-working community groups and organisations and some fantastic volunteers putting together community events like last week’s Beeston Festival and tomorrow’s Belle Isle Summer Fair.

But yesterday we received an anonymous comment from a reader that made me stop and think.

It’s clearly from somebody who desperately wants to leave the area and doesn’t speak highly of the area they live, notably Holbeck. I ummed and ahhed over whether to print it or not, but decided to ‘print and be damned’ as they’ve got a right to have their views heard.

Here it is:

“I’m sorry but have you actually walked around Holbeck/Beeston streets? It’s full of drugs and the bin yards are full of rubbish…Needles are a big problem as well – living here is very intimidating and I’m planning to move… I do not want my child growing up round here… I asked the council to sort the problem they did not also the roads are full of holes… The park is full of dog poo … check all the holes on Holbeck park it aint safe for children… I’ve done my part in the community but ive had enough…Id be happy to speak to anyone and ive even taken pictures…”

Not a great advert for the area. Is it the reality of Beeston and Holbeck residents? Well, it’s the reality of this particular resident and fair play to them for speaking out…

But it got me thinking. Does he or she know about wonderful groups such as the Voice of Holbeck, or the Cross Ingrams Residents’ Associatiohn, Holbeck in Bloom, the people who run the gala? The great events that are on at St Matthew’s Community Centre? The work at Holbeck Community Centre? The work of at least 13 groups in ther area run by volunteers and community spirited people?

And – without being political – how hard working the three Beeston and Holbeck councillors are?

Perhaps if he/she had spoken to them they might feel differently? Perhaps they wouldn’t feel so isolated or helpless to affect change? Maybe I’m just naive.

It’s one of society’s great problems today – we often don’t talk to our neighbours. Sometimes we don’t even know who lives next door to us.. This is something all of us can affect with a little thought, starting with a polite hello in the morning. Or asking your elderly neighbour if they want something from the shop. It’s an idea recently championed by Sonny Garewal at Holbeck Elderly Aid.

That’s how communities start to be formed.

Perhaps it’s also important for these groups to shout a bit louder about what they’re doing, how they’re making a difference. And how other people can make a difference too.

And yes, it’s important to hold the council (and police) to account too.

Like I say, I may be naive, but together we CAN change things.