Can you dig it? Brixton streets given makeover by community in Freshview ‘green up’ scheme

A Brixton street will take part in an award-winning council initiative designed to help spruce up their Lambeth neighbourhood this weekend.

Community Freshview provides equipment to green-fingered residents wanting to improve their area’s appearance, with Leander Road hosting their clean-up on Sunday September 21.

Community Freshview has run around 350 events over its seven years and won Best Community Scheme at the 2011 Keep Britain Tidy awards.

It is a form of localism described by Lambeth Council as “your chance to make a difference to the environment in your local area, and the borough cleaner, safer and greener.”

James Cornish, a journalist and Leander Road resident, will be helping to organise up to 20 volunteers from the Leander Road Residents’ Association in Sunday’s ‘green-up’.

Mr Cornish, 43, said: “We are going to plant some trees, paint the front walls and trim the hedges of people who aren’t able to do it themselves.”

One of the benefits of local residents taking responsibility for their area’s upkeep is to help foster a sense of community, Mr Cornish believes.

“This was the first thing we did together as a road and it focused everyone to get together,” he said,

“More important than the act of doing something is acknowledging the fact that you live together in the same street and you look out for each other.

“That’s more important than planting a few trees.”

Although the Leander Road residents have provided some funding themselves, Lambeth Council’s help has been invaluable in supporting Sunday’s event, says Mr Cornish.

“Lambeth chipped in paint and a skip, which is really useful. We appreciate the backing of Lambeth Freshview team. Without that it would be very difficult.”

Richard Easthope, a Lambeth Council Partnership and Development Officer, oversees the project and feels Community Freshview fits in perfectly with Lambeth Council’s co-operative council ethos.

“The way that residents are empowered to take control of their local area fits in well with the co-operative way of working.” he said.

Mr Easthope, 25, agrees that cultivating neighbourhood friendships is as important an aim as tending to any overgrown weeds.

He said: “The community building aspect is as great if not greater than the environmental enhancements.

“People get to meet their neighbours for the first time and learn new skills; to regain and take a sense of pride in their local area.”

With nearly 100 events envisaged by the end of the year, the initiative is growing in popularity.

Featured picture courtesy of David Goehring, with thanks

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