I am a Cottingley girl born and bred, so is my mother, as my grandparents came to live in the Cottingley prefabs in 1968.
Unquestionably a lot has changed, even in the 19 years I’ve been a resident. We have problems on the estate that are derived mostly from boredom; anti-social behaviour, litter and graffiti to name a few. However I believe this is a societal change and is the norm in areas just like Cottingley all over inner cities.
Admittedly Cottingley has a bad reputation and a few years ago my family moved to Middleton to see if the grass really was greener on the other side.
But whilst the area was quieter and cleaner it was merely a house and not a home. The people who live around you are as important as the place where you live and you can’t create community spirit; it has to be built over time and generations.
What Cottingley lacks aesthetically, it certainly makes up for in personality.
Although TRAC (Tenants and Residents Association of Cottingley) recently organised the landscaping of the neglected shopping area; the purpose of which was to inject a much needed pride back into the heart of Cottingley.
I have been a committee member of TRAC for some time now and just lately I have been impressed by the increasing number of residents getting involved to ensure their voices are heard, and heard they have been.
The ‘Clean up’ initiative which is running for six months has been a success thus far. The community clean up on Friday 22nd September engaged residents, local councillors, Cottingley Primary School staff and students, Aire Valley Homes and many other departments and individuals who all worked tirelessly together to improve the estate for all the residents.
Sadly some residents do still choose to litter, but such is life and if the majority come together they can, with the help, make Cottingley a nice place to live. The ongoing project is still maintaining weekly walkabouts to identify problematic areas and ensure the clean up continues.
Unfortunately the youth of Cottingley are not held in great esteem by some residents. It is not an engaging estate to grow up in, in some respects, as there are no parks/ play areas for children therefore sometimes energies are channelled into the wrong kind of pursuits.
Having said that I am aware that a youth group is now available and whilst there is still along way to go it is a step in the right direction. I am only 19 myself and don’t consider growing up in Cottingley to be of any detriment to me I attended Cottingley Primary School and went on to achieve 11 GCSEs, four A-levels and an unconditional offer to read a degree in politics.
I have been supported by my community, local councillors and MP Hilary Benn who allowed me to shadow him in Parliament and personally I am proud of my Cottingley roots. Opportunities do exist in Cottingley for those who seek them.
Nineteen-year-old Robyn Holland is a Cottingley resident and has written this post for South Leeds Life about life in her community. The next issue of the South Leeds Life magazine will have a special feature on Cottingley. Earlier this week, local resident Vikki Blake wrote a post entitled My Life in Cottingley – the forgotten island?
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