Here’s one way of creating and maintaining a pocket community garden…

In reference to our previous post about the newly created space on the ¾ estate in Vange after a ‘temporary’ fence and a load of fly-tipping was cleared, here’s an idea all the way from South Norwood on what could be done with it: The Sensible Garden Namely, create a community run pocket garden. If you take a look at this Facebook page, we’re sure you will be inspired to come up with some ideas on what can be done with support from people in the neighbourhood.

There are a fair few gains that can be had from creating and maintaining a pocket garden on an estate. There’s the boost to community morale from seeing a space that’s cared for by locals as opposed to yet another ready made site for flytipping. There’s the sense of camaraderie generated by a group of people working together with a common purpose. There’s the opportunity for people to express their creativity as you can see from looking through the Facebook page for The Sensible Garden. Also, there are the benefits of just being out in the fresh air and getting some exercise.

The space on the ¾ estate is small and as such is unlikely to attract external funding unlike larger spaces such as the Mendip Wildlife Garden in Southend – Also, it has to be borne in mind that some elements at Basildon Council can sometimes be less than helpful when dealing with community groups! So it’s down to the community to come up with ideas for what can be done and the implement it. As stated previously, Vange Hill Community Group and Basildon & Southend Housing Action will be more than happy to facilitate any ideas for a garden on this space.


Could there be a pocket community garden here?

After last week’s community clean up (see the previous post) on the ¾ estate in Vange on the southern fringes of Basildon, our sister blog, The South Essex Stirrer published a number of posts based on what they saw and experienced. One of them was this: Action? about a fence and an accumulation of rubbish that had become an eyesore and a hazard. We don’t know what buttons this pushed at Basildon Council but action was taken to clear the fence and the trash to leave the patch of open ground shown above.

What we now have is a space with potential. As mentioned in our previous post, Vange Hill Community Group (VHCG), facilitated by Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA) have been focusing on the Oldwyk and Gambleside areas of the estate to establish a degree of community led maintenance and care that will hopefully act as an inspiration to the rest of the estate. Where this cleared patch of ground is in Swanstead is halfway between Oldwyk and Gambleside and would be a perfect location to establish a pocket community garden that would serve as the nucleus of another ‘maintained’ zone.

If any residents in and around Swanstead or from further afield on the ¾ estate want to step up to the plate to help create a community garden that would help people take a pride in their neighbourhood, VHCG and BASHA would be delighted to help them achieve this. Also, if anyone from the wider region we cover who has experience of creating and maintaining community run pocket gardens wants to get on board to offer their expertise and advice, they will be warmly welcomed.

Another community clean up for Vange on Saturday 17th February

Following on from the community clean upon the ¾ estate in Vange on December 2nd: Doing it for ourselves on the ¾ estate in Vange the Vange Hill Community Group (VHCG) and Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA) have called another one for Saturday 17th February.

VHCG and BASHA are wondering if Basildon Council get wind of this clean up, whether they’ll put in extra effort on cleaning the estate of uncollected rubbish bags like they did before the last one back in December:) Fine – that leaves VHCH and BASHA more time to concentrate on the trimming and gardening side of things which will help with building a sense of pride in the neighbourhood…

As before, BASHA are facilitating this community clean up. The overall aim is to empower people on the ¾ estate to take an active role in making their estate a better place to live. Part of that is the physical work necessary to tidy the place up and put in some planting that will brighten things up come the spring and summer.

Obviously VHCG and BASHA are not going to be doing the whole of the ¾ estate. They’re working on two areas where they’ve already established a foothold with the aim of eventually linking these up to establish a clean and green corridor. The hope is that this will inspire residents in other parts of the estate to start working on their areas, facilitated by VHCG and BASHA if needed.

Basically, it’s all about empowering residents to take an active interest in managing their estates as part of a more fundamental project aimed at bringing power down to the grassroots where it belongs…

Vange 3/4 estate community clean up this weekend!

Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA) and the Vange Hill Community Group (VHCG) have had more than a few issues in dealing with the authorities who are supposed to be responsible for the ¾ estate in Vange which is located on the southern fringes of Basildon. Both BASHA and VHCG are fed up with the wrangling over which authority is responsible for (not) clearing the trash properly, (not) trimming back out of control undergrowth and (not) maintaining footpaths and steps to a decent, safe standard.

There’s only so much banging heads against a brick wall they’re prepared to tolerate in dealing with the Kafkaesque bureaucracy of local authorities and housing associations and trying to contact ward councillors conspicuous by their absence. At a recent meeting between the South Essex Stirrer and BASHA, they decided to do something about this with a day of therapeutic community cleaning where they can see a definite result at the end of a day’s hard graft.

They welcome any of their supporters to join them on the day – please wear suitable footwear and clothing you don’t mind getting mucky. Tools will be provided, but if you can bring along anything you think will be useful, you’re welcome to do so…

It’s starting to happen

Following on from a post about the troubled ¾ estate in Vange on our sister blog, The South Essex STIRRER: The fightback starts here – as you can see from the flyer depicted above, things are starting to move in a positive direction. If you live on the ¾ estate or nearby in Vange and feel you want to make a positive contribution to your community, get in touch using the contact details shown on the flyer and get stuck in:) There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to improve the estate and no one’s pretending it’s going to be an easy task – however, the more people who step up to the plate, the greater the chances are of achieving success…

Positive developments in Vange

Our sister blog, The South Essex STIRRER has had plenty to say on the problems afflicting the ¾ estate in Vange: Where the new town dream has died… and: Eight weeks! Both of these posts have an analysis of how the problems developed with some indications as to how they can be tackled.

What The Estuary Alternative is partly about is promoting and celebrating community based groups who are doing their level best to make a difference at the grassroots. When it comes to the ¾ estate, there are some positive developments to report. Firstly, there’s the Vange Hill Community Group – who are lobbying Basildon Council and Circle Anglia Housing (who are responsible for much of the social housing on the estate) to pull their finger out and do the job they’re paid to do. They also encourage residents to take more responsibility for keeping the estate clean. Then there’s The Plot (Vange Hill Drive Community Allotment) who as the title of the Facebook group suggests, run a community allotment next to the estate. We’re big fans of community allotments: Get digging! as they help with neighbourhood resilience through building solidarity and providing self sufficiency as well as being a source of healthy food and an opportunity for exercise. Last but by no means least there’s Basildon & Southend Housing Action – who see their role as facilitating and offering practical and logistical support to groups such as Vange Hill Community Group.

Turning around the fortunes of the ¾ estate is a massive undertaking and no one is under any illusions that it’s going to be a long slog. However, as you can see from the above, the elements are in place on the ground to start to make a real difference, creating the community spirit that’s needed to make a difference to people’s lives…watch this space for developments…