Only on a few occasions does someone breeze into a meeting on a winter’s morning and bring a fresh look to the issues we’ve been discussing for years. This is exactly what happened at the Holbeck Neighbourhood Forum on Saturday (24 January 2015).
Lauren, a new resident to the area, full of energy and passion, contributed to the discussions following the draft intention policies, regarding the lack of creative services for young people in the community.
The original aim of her attending the forum was to collect a litter grabber from Angela Gabriel. A phone call the day before to the ward councilor regarding the litter issue in Holbeck resulted in Angela inviting Lauren along to the forum to meet some other residents. And so Lauren came along and gained one litter grabber, a few urban photos for her album, and this report.
Lauren, who works full time, started collecting the litter blown into gutters four weeks ago. She made a phone call to the council to get some grabbers but after numerous calls and no sign of a road cleaner she took to doing the job herself. Her efforts have met with support and encouragement from other residents, pleased that she is trying to tidy the place up. Fly tipping has always been highlighted as problem when discussing areas of improvement on the neighbourhood plan.
Sandwiched between the rows of back to backs, Lauren shows me the litter slowly growing, saying “you should have seen it last week it was spotless.” She also has a bug bear about the dog fouling outside her door. She worries about the health and safety of the children who play nearby.
However, Lauren remains upbeat and positive. She has learnt that the council will collect bags which are marked for the council to collect. You can order these from Highways. Lauren broke down a whole load of builders waste left in the open communal areas of the back to backs and took them to the council bins on Top Moor Side which were collected that day. She just has to shift a carpet now.
Litter picking is only the tip of iceberg and Lauren is using her presence to help raise awareness in other issues such as the lack of creative space for young people.
“My vision is to allow a space for creation in many forms whether that’s creating artwork, dancing, photography, spoken word, beatboxing and more.”
She tells me after our meeting that weekend she went out to do some spray painting. Within minutes a crowd of ten people, adults and children, came to watch and ask her if she sells any of her work. She was surprised at how many people were interested in what she was doing. Luckily for Lauren she has attended the forum now, so she will be on the mailing list to keep updated with news and other services who can help her.
“I don’t know how yet, all I have at the moment is my passion, but I am starting this now.”
This refreshing energy is well recognisable, especially with all the community volunteers who have worked so hard for many years to help improve the Holbeck area. I remember a couple of years ago coming in with loads of ideas and finding ways to get involved. I have since become secretary on the Holbeck Neighbourhood Plan board, and it is very easy to get bogged down with the paperwork process and forget about the real life side of it. However, it is finding new faces with equal passion like Lauren who come into the regeneration process at different times that allow us to make these changes possible. Lauren has a lot to offer and I look forward to hearing more about her comments to the ‘draft policy intentions’ from what she ‘picks up from the streets’.