My vision for Beeston partly comes from my experience of living in poor countries. Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world and known as the Warm Heart of Africa taught me the benefits of community.
What is it that makes Beeston so special? What are its strengths?
‘It’s like a village’! It’s small enough to know lots of people but it has everything we need, like a town. Beeston has an international flavour, looking outwards as well as inwards.
Beeston has a variety of community and interest groups: U3A, sporting groups, church and other faith communities, students, choirs, Oxjam, poetry groups and pubs. There are self-help groups, support groups, and Citizens Advice Broxtowe.
It has a wide variety of shops and I rarely shop anywhere else.
There is a buzz in Beeston. especially with the present development of phase 2 of Beeston Town Centre with its cinema, 132 flats, and restaurants.
What challenges do we face?
Housing is major concern. There is a shortage of houses and rents are high because Beeston is popular place to live and there is a shortage of brownfield sites. The new flats in the centre will provide some help.
What is there for young people? Young people need more leisure facilities, and more empowerment. The Youth Mayor and Youth Council attached to Broxtowe Brough Council are an example of this.
We need to work together: Often community groups have competed with each other and have not worked cooperatively together or with the statutory authorities. This is changing. CAB (Citizens Advice Broxtowe) is working closely with Broxtowe Borough Council and the DWP (Department of Work & Pensions). Churches and many local groups have worked to support HOPE in delivering food parcels during the pandemic.
The COVID pandemic has taught us how to re-evaluate our priorities: we have become more of a community supporting those in need, valuing carers, key workers and the NHS. We need to continue this. BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) groups need to be valued by the Council and the Community.
How can we make Beeston a better place to live, work and play?
Working together is the answer. Here are two examples that I have been involved in: The combination of Broxtowe Brough Council, voluntary groups and individuals established a Memory Café for people living with dementia. It now meets weekly with 40 people attending.
In 2015 local councils were invited to house Syrian refugees. The Council agreed and, working together with landlords, residents and councillors, got eight new Syrian families settled in this area.
Our response to the COVID pandemic has been to strengthen our ties of community and to care for those in need and for our environment. We need to build on this, to encourage each other. Beeston is already a great place to live, work and play and it can only get better!
Janet Patrick, Councillor for Beeston West, Mayor of the Borough of Broxtowe. June 2020
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