White City Resident
Chair of the White City Residents Association
“I moved to this area roughly 25 years ago and I lived on Ellerslie Road and then moved onto the White City Estate about 20 years ago. When I lived on Ellerslie Road, whilst I was familiar with the neighbours, I didn’t really feel that I was part of a community. When I moved onto the White City Estate I was very aware that despite it only being one road north of where I was previously, that I was now part of a pretty active community with a much greater sense of neighbourliness.
Now I don’t know all of the sociological reasons why living on an estate of 2,000 properties is more likely to lead to people working together as opposed to living on a street of 150 houses. Considering how close they are in proximity there is no real logic to it.
It took me about a year to go to my first Resident’s Association meeting. At that time, it was a fairly basic Residents Association. They didn’t have a base to work from and just hired a room from the local Fatima Centre. They held meetings every few weeks to discuss various issues on the estate. It was probably about two years after that we started to talk about doing more than just respond to a blocked drain or an issue over parking.
The area scored highly on the indices of multiple deprivation which meant that there was money coming into the area on a fairly regular basis. But what was clear was that despite millions and millions pounds coming into the area (not just the estate) improvements had plateaued and people had gone from a position of about as low as you can get with a very, very low quality of life to the point where it was just about ok but in terms of quality of education, employment, crime, the numbers weren’t really improving.
As a community we started to talk about taking more control of improving the area and the Resident’s Association got ourselves into a position where we could start to make positive change.
One of the first things we did was find ourselves a proper base which is the White City Community Centre.
Over the last 10 years we have really created a movement to address some of the problems on the estate. We haven’t addressed all of them. For example, we need more mental health support, we still need a proper advocacy service.
There is a really strong and positive community on the White City Estate. Not everybody here is without their challenges or is positive or contributes to the community; however there is a critical mass of people here who are used to being involved in a community and who are happy to engage. Any time we want to try something out such as a drama club for kids, or a homework club, there is always a sufficient number of people to give it a go. It is never a waste of time to try something out.
People in this area will come out of their houses and not just to benefit from services but they will come out to volunteer their own time and help others. In fact sometimes we find that we have more volunteers than people willing to take up the service.
Many of the people here are living well below the poverty line. They can put food on the table but just about. But despite that people here generally don’t perceive themselves to be deprived or hard done by. They will say I am ok actually because Mrs Jones next to me has this and that problem so actually I am fine, even if they are also dealing with various challenges.
There are lots of people here who have lots of skills, lots of passion, lots of experiences but they are stuck in financial situations that are very difficult to move out of.”