Community Spirit For Sale?


Comment logo 1Community spirit is a phrase that we hear a lot, but is there any one thing that causes us to have it?

I read in the Yorkshire Evening Post last week that Otley and Chapel Allerton have been recognised as being among the best places to live in the country. I send an almighty well done to them and their communities for putting North Leeds on the map, and for developing the kind of spirit needed to convince people of the special nature of their areas.

The criteria for gaining this prestigious place in the top twenty was apparently a lot to do with the community spirit and this was in large part, put down to the amenities that they have in the areas. Things like good strong house prices, high attainment in schools, good local services, theatre, cinema, sport centres and clubs and the local attractions like the Chevin.

Again these are all good and I’m glad that they are so fortunate.

Singing carols in Middleton
Singing carols in Middleton

So what about Belle Isle and Middleton? Well, despite the very best efforts of us all, our schools don’t have a particularly high attainment level. We don’t have cinemas, theatres or even a bingo hall now. We only have a few pubs left open too but, we do have a community spirit that would rival anywhere in the country!

I work as a barber and often talk to people who are new to the area and one thing I hear all the time from them is “I was warned not to move up here but I’ve been made to feel really welcome!” This isn’t a fluke or a just an isolated little patch where people are friendly, this is our community and, on the face of it, we have very little compared to the people of North Leeds.

I wonder then how we come we have the same community spirit and a warm, welcoming demeanor to those frequent newcomers? It seems to me that what binds us isn’t what we have, but what we have not! It is in prosperity that the the residents of Otley and Chapel Allerton come together, but for us in South Leeds it is adversity that unites and combines us into a strong and welcoming community.


This article was written by Craig Sweaton using our Community Reporters website