Pride grows as the streets bloom
Nottingham has used Britain in Bloom and its sister project, It’s Your Neighbourhood, to bring pride back into the city, following years of indifference, negative media portrayals and rising crime rates. There are now 160 It’s Your Neighbourhood groups gardening across the city, including several in the Meadows.
The Meadows lies to the south of the city, a 10-minute walk from the Victorian grandeur of the train station. It is classed as an area of deprivation – one of the City Council’s priority areas. The Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010 puts parts of Bridge Ward, where the Meadows is located, in the worst 10% nationally for measures of: outdoor living environment; crime and disorder; children and young people's education, skills and training; health deprivation and disability, and income deprivation affecting children and older people.
Streets packed with flowers and fresh produce
Comprising old terraced houses originally built for the workers of the Great Central Railway and a newer 1970s housing estate, the Meadows is home to around 7,500 people. The Pride in the Meadows campaign was established by local people 10 years ago to bring the community together.
An important part of this has been a growing involvement in the Britain in Bloom campaign. Areas previously neglected and littered with rubbish have been planted with cherry tomatoes, sunflowers and courgettes for the locals to pick and eat. Streets are now filled with hanging baskets, colourful blooms vying against street-grown vegetables, and neighbours have installed benches outside their homes, so they can sit, chat and appreciate the plants.
In 2008 four local groups entered the RHS Britain in Bloom It’s Your Neighbourhood awards; in 2011 the whole area got together and achieved a Silver award in the larger Urban Community category in the East Midlands in Bloom competition, taking home the regional trophy.
'The Meadows has an undeserved reputation across the city that is often promoted by the media, which, through our success in the Bloom awards, we are beginning to change,' says local resident Di Clausen. 'We are very proud of all the groups and individuals who have got involved, and we like to celebrate their success.'
Latest figures reveal that between June 2003 and November 2010, reported crime in the city dropped by half - that is 37,000 fewer incidents a year compared with 2003. It also means that Nottingham has hit its 2012 crime reduction target two years ahead of schedule and crime levels are at their lowest for 30 years.
Today the Meadows is a bustling place, mainly thanks to the hard work and tenacity of the local residents working alongside the City Council. Their ambition and sense of pride has spurred a community into action. The planting up of hanging baskets was a natural activity to help foster community spirit. With the help of the Council and the Community Payback scheme, planters were provided and brackets attached to the walls. Visiting the terraced streets now, you see row after row of hanging baskets, planters and street benches. The neighbours talk to each other, keep an eye on each other’s properties and water the plants as they go along.