|YES WE CAN: Volunteer John Moose, chair of the steering group Simeon|
Bright and volunteer co-ordinator Penny Keeling.
A PROJECT which aims to identify solutions to some of residents’ top priorities has been launched in North Solihull.
The Community Action Network (CAN) will be working with local people to address long-standing concerns, including the deterioration of parks and a lack of support for the area’s young people.
Over the summer, CAN members surveyed hundreds of residents in Fordbridge and surrounding areas, asking them what they liked about the community and those things they wanted to improve.
Chairman Simeon Bright said that local residents were ideally placed to push forward with initiatives which could make a real difference.
“It is clear that many people feel strongly about their area,” he said.
“Obviously now we’ve completed the survey, we don’t want it to just sit on a shelf. We will be looking at how we can move things forward.
“Sometimes people care about an issue, but it would be a real handful to tackle it on their own. It’s often when you get a few people together that they can make a difference.
“It’s these people, who have friends and family and extended family in the area, who are often best placed to do something. They understand the community because they live there and in many ways that's more helpful than having someone come in from outside.”
CAN was formally launched at the Bosworth Community Centre a few weeks ago, with a group of local people briefed about what was next for the project.
Penny Keeling, CAN’s volunteer coordinator, said: “The response from local residents [to the survey] was amazing.
“It showed real passion for the community in which we live and we will now look at how we can help the development of that community.”
Among those attending the Chelmsley Wood venue was Nicola Brady, who set up M.A.D. House – a facility for 11 to 18-year-olds.
CAN believes that this is “a shining example” of what can be achieved by residents, particularly in an area of services where there have been real concerns.
The organisation’s steering group is also pleased with the impact that a group for local mums, which meets weekly at the Community Centre, has had locally.
“Obviously there are constraints, but some of the things that can be done – which will make a difference – are actually fairly easy to get started,” said Simeon.
To find out more about CAN and how you can get involved visit their website.
What you want to see:
MORE than 400 residents took part in the survey, with locals asked their views at events including Chelmund’s Day.
Almost one in five of those questioned mentioned parks and open spaces, with many suggesting that the council did not value these areas as much as local people.
The decision to withdraw funding from Meriden Adventure Playground was a particularly sore point.
Around 15 per cent of respondents mentioned local policing and anti social behaviour, with off-road bikes and a lack of visible patrols among the main frustrations.
The single biggest theme to emerge was concern about the support available for children and young people and CAN intends to set up a group to look specifically at this issue.
Many of those surveyed felt that the closure of facilities ranging from Sure Start centres to the Kingshurst youth centre had taken its toll.
“This was something that came up time and time again,” said Simeon.
“There is a concern that there is not enough available and obviously that can store up massive problems for the future.”