Community Organiser Eve Barrett writes:
After meeting a woman and her mother at a pop-up listening, I supported a huge group of people trying to save their neighbourhood. Here’s how it started. Watch the video to find out what happened next.
One particular day, during a pop listening in a local medical centre, I started a listening to a young mum – Tracey – who was very vocal, and I quickly realised that she lived in an area of North Birkenhead that had proven very difficult to get any listenings from. She was upset, angry, and frustrated with the social housing landlord, Magenta Living, but through her story I heard passion, love for her community, and determination.
Within a few weeks, again in the medical centre, I started a listening with another lady from the same road who seemed just as passionate and vocal as Tracy. It turns out it was her Mum. I think I was destined to meet these women.
These women were fired up, they had a history and investment in this area, their parents represent the past and now their children and grandchildren are the future, but what future is there? Currently 92 of the 189 houses over three of the roads are unoccupied. They decided that they needed to find out other people’s views, so they arranged their first meeting in the local pub as they didn’t want it in any public building.
The meeting was heated as you can imagine; there were discussions on the state of the houses and the poor conditions but the majority just wanted to know when Magenta Living were going to make a decision or proposal on the future of the houses. They decided to get a petition going and also to lobby the Birkenhead Constituency Meeting by submitting online questions and attending the meeting. The response was great to both approaches, the residents managed 317 signatures on the petition and it was reported that numerous questions to the committee were submitted.
At the residents’ meeting I talked to people who have lived there for 60 years or more. They have their children around them, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins – generations of history with a foundation in extended family, underpinned by bonds and ties that unite a community. I am now starting to gather stories from the young and old, trying to piece together a history of memories before it’s too late and the community is broken up completely.
This story is ongoing, the residents are now setting up a public meeting with Magenta Living and local councillors, and they want the meeting on their terms. They are continuing to generate support and attend the meetings, but people are moving from the area when alternative properties become available and they are eligible. This does not help the five home owners who have invested money into their properties thinking they would be able to retire in the area they love, now there is such uncertainty.