A snapshot of our neighbourhood is it is an inner-city area of mainly terraced housing, densely packed, comprising of mainly low-income households (‘settled’ and ‘newly arrived’) who are very diverse with a large youth population. It is an area with a historic association to riots and unrest (1980s and 2005) although in 2011 it didn’t experience any incident unlike other parts of the city and the country. It has suffered from negative labelling as an ‘undesirable area’ to live and work in by some of its own residents, some local workers and other city commentators in their reporting in the press.
It’s good schools, cheap high street shopping (for food and groceries), cheap rents, proximity to the city centre and diverse community activity were some of the reasons cited to us in 2009 for the housing demand in the area.
It’s former residents – mainly of older Irish and Afro-Caribbean heritage – still maintain a connection to the area via their weekly visits to the Churches located in the neighbourhood. They are a regular visitor community to Lozells and their fondness to it is essential social capital in the ongoing development & PR of the area.
The biggest challenge we see is the gulf between the issues faced by local people to those issues prioritized by public agencies in their work in the area. This lack of accountability of decision makers to the real issues faced by the neighbourhood has created consultation fatigue and fewer people interested in community leadership.
In the Summer of 2014, Aspire & Succeed was commissioned by the People’s Health Trust to undertake a listening campaign to unearth the stories of local life and what matters most to residents in improving their area.
A team of residents were trained and supported to do 1-2-1s, house meetings, neighbourhood walks and local events to go out into Lozells meeting people to record their stories. Every participant was invited to attend Issues Workshops to help unpack the common themes coming from the stories, resulting with the presentation of an Area Plan at the end of the Summer at a Neighbourhood event.