Words by Afzal Hussain – Chief Officer of Witton Lodge Community Association
I am sometimes asked what difference community-led organisations really make? Especially given the scale of today’s challenges, such as, the cost-of-living crisis. Events recently held across Erdington start to shed some light on this.
In Wyrley Birch we celebrated the first birthday of Witton Lakes Eco Hub. It is a shining example of how over many years, local residents and volunteers overcame huge obstacles, and with grit and determination helped to create this wonderful community facility.
Once the site of a derelict building and a rubbish dump, it is now a thriving community hub where residents can enjoy a drink or join in a wide range of activities. Local school children are learning about the environment and a network of community partners will provide advice and practical tips to reduce energy use and fuel bills.
In contrast, a community meeting held at Six Ways Baptist Church regarding HMO’s & exempt accommodation raised serious concerns from residents on issues including crime, antisocial behaviour, and safety. There was palpable anger amongst residents.
I’m not certain a strong, local community anchor will have prevented the problems from arising, however, I am confident that these issues will have been raised earlier, with options and possible solutions explored with stakeholders. Maybe this will provide the impetus to create a strong local voice.
At Witton Lodge Community Association, we are huge advocates of communities playing a leading role in shaping their neighbourhoods, and believe more decisions should be taken locally. We continue to make the case for this, and take our message to national and local politicians.
For more on Witton Lodge Community Association, visit www.wittonlodge.org.uk
Witton Lodge Community Association is a key partner in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.