Resident Sharon McEwan, Chesham told us;
"Before I got involved in the redevelopment of my estate I lacked confidence and self esteem, now I'm a town councillor engaging with the wider community to benefit the area as a whole"
Sharon lived with her 4 children in a 3 bedroom house on Beechcroft Road, Chesham, Bucks and was invited to a public meeting to look at and discuss some plans that Paradigm had for redeveloping the area.
She had some strong views about the redevelopment and decided to set up a residents association.
Paradigm helped Sharon to get the skills she needed to be involved and paid for her to attend a computer course at the local Adult Education centre which enabled her to regularly write, print and distribute a newsletter to all the residents.
Sharon also requested that people in the meetings, discussing the redevelopment, used plain English as there was a lot of jargon being used. This made the meetings much easier for Sharon to participate in.
Through the Residents' Association, Sharon was involved in the redevelopment in lots of different ways, helping to:
- Name the new cul - de - sacs.
- Organise events for all the residents, including trips to the coast, Christmas parties, pantomimes, fetes and summer holiday play schemes.
- Attended monthly site meetings
- Decide what choices residents had for their new homes such as paint, kitchen units, taps, showers and flooring, worktops, windows and doors
- Agree suitable traffic calming measures
- Arrange home visits for the residents who had temporarily been moved
- Set up a monthly drop in surgery, so residents could still have a say and be updated on the redevelopment even when they were not living on site
- Organise a community art project where a local artist worked with the children to design and paint hoardings to brighten up the area. Today the hoardings are still on display in the back gardens of the estate.
- Design and produce a ‘welcome pack' for all the new residents, which included information such as local schools, doctors and after school activities such etc.
The involvement of their Residents' Associations' in the redevelopment was so successful, they were asked to run a workshop about it at the South East Chartered Institute of Housing Conference in Brighton. For Sharon this was the most frightening part of being involved in the Residents' Association because she had never really done any public speaking before, but with the support of other committee members she did it, and now public speaking doesn't bother her at all!
"If I was asked to get involved again, I would. It is an unforgettable experience (as well as scary!), I have made lots of new and long lasting friendships and have gained much more knowledge, confidence and self esteem."