Published on April 4th, 2022 | by Gaelle Finley0
COMMUNITY ACTION DAY MAKES HISTORY
On Saturday 2nd April 2022, local history was made in Antrobus Road, Handsworth. Most residents were increasingly fed up with the amount of littering and fly-tipping which was engulfing this very long road and the adjacent alleyways. These residents had had enough and decided to form the Antrobus Road Residents’ Action Group (ARRAG) in 2019. It then became apparent that other issues were of concern, in particular the increase in traffic of late which has resulted in damage to the residents’ vehicles, dog fouling on the pavements, and wheelie bins and other items being used to save parking spaces.
Their first community action day (“These Streets Are Made for Walking”) happened this Saturday when residents Gaelle, Naomi, Pauline, Ruth and Sandria set up shop on the pavements and involved everyone who had shown an interest.
Volunteers from Antrobus Road and other local streets turned up to pick up litter and clear some of the mess left in the alleyways; the fire brigade came in full force, including their best fire engine, which enchanted the children, and offered safety advice, free smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors; the police sent some of their PCSOs to knock on doors in order to find out more about the residents’ concerns, and a group a Police Cadets did a great job joining in the litter-picking effort.
It was heartening to hear the passers-by saying ‘Hello, well done!’ to the residents as they passed by and sometimes stopping for a chat or volunteering to join the group. One such grateful resident decided to cook some delicious pakora for all the volunteers, some of whom had been sitting in sometimes very cold conditions at their information tables. Many good contacts were made and people felt happy to engage with their neighbours.
One resident said ‘This is great, just like in the old days, maybe we should do something for the Queen’s Jubilee!’ Someone else said ‘One motorist driving by even stopped and asked what we were doing. We should have more actions like this, it’s good because it brings the community together.’
Adam Harper, of West Midlands Fire Service based at Handsworth Community Fire Station, agreed: ‘Absolutely amazing day, thank you so much, 97 families safer in their homes and well over 100 alarms fitted. We did 3 months’ work in one afternoon.’ Handsworth Police also commented: ‘It was a really fabulous day. Thank you for all who took part. We certainly enjoyed it.’
There will be two more such days of action in the future: the next one, on Saturday July 2nd, with a focus on the local environment (as well as the police and fire service again), and the last one will be in October before the clocks go back.
The residents funded their days of action by applying for a grant from from Birmingham City Council’s Celebrating Communities Fund.
Before and after:
You can contact ARRAG by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Twitter: @AntrobusB21
– Facebook: via Inside Handsworth
– Nextdoor: via their Handsworth Park section