Friday, 15 December 2017

Residents want hall to foster community spirit on estate

RESIDENTS of Henley’s Gainsborough Estate want a community hall.

RESIDENTS of Henley’s Gainsborough Estate want a community hall.

Neighbours Paula Isaac and David Eggleton, who live in Gainsborough Road, believe the building could help foster community spirit by hosting activities such as a mothers and toddlers group, coffee mornings for elderly people and youth clubs.

The pair want the hall built in a car park in Gainsborough Hill, which is owned by housing association Soha and they say is hardly used.

A petition signed by more than 100 residents was presented to Soha and a residents’ association is to be set up to develop the idea.

Mrs Isaac, a mother-of-three, said the idea started after neighbours came together for a street party to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee last summer.

“We were really surprised with the amount of residents who came out and held parties,” she said. “We thought that maybe the community would like to get together more but people don’t really know anywhere to meet so a couple of us thought about getting a community hall.”

Mrs Isaac, 30, a teaching assistant at Badgemore Primary School, talked to residents on the estate and found support for the idea.

She said: “We got an overwhelmingly positive response. A lot of people said they would like somewhere to go with their family but there’s not anywhere close enough.”

Mrs Isaac said the hall would be run by residents, who would act as keyholders.

“We really hope this will take off,” she said. “It would be nice to raise the profile of the estate.

“It has had a really bad name over the last few years and we think it’s really unfair because it’s caused by a small minority of bad eggs. It would be nice to get a really good community feel back on the estate by bringing families together.”

Mrs Isaac moved to the estate with her husband Rob and their children three years ago but used to play there as a child while visiting her grandmother.

She said: “My nana would go out and leave the door open all day and people would walk in and out of each other’s houses.

“We would like to have a nice community feeling like that again, where neighbours look after each other.”

Mrs Isaac believes the hall would be especially useful for youngsters,

She said: “The youth club in the town is great but for parents it’s too far to let their children go unsupervised so it would be nice to have somewhere closer.

“I feel safer if I know the residents on the estate and it would be nice if the hall was run by people we know, where it’s not too far from home.” Mr Eggleton, 55, said he had originally envisaged the hall being used for as an advice centre, police drop-in centre and for alcohol and drug rehabilitation clinics.

But after seeing more residents become involved with his campaign to tidy up the area he now believes it could provide a social space.

He said: “It would be great to see it used as a place where families can meet up. We could have our own meetings for Neighbourhood Watch and it could also be used for people on the estate to have kids’ parties. If it was big enough we could even open a coffee shop.

“It would good use of an open space and a central point for people coming into the estate.

Mr Eggleton, a father-of-eight who lives with his wife Nicky, said the hall would overlook a play area so parents could watch over their children.

Soha says it will discuss the idea at a meeting later this month.

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