Its very rare that myself and my husband get a "date day". Usually we have our 2 children with us. Our youngest has just turned 2 and the other is 3 (almost 4). So, as you can probably imagine our hands are always full. However, today my mother-in-law took the kids out so we jumped on the opportunity to make the most of it and spend some "quality time" together.
At first we didnt really know what to do. I wanted to do something unusual, fun and active - something that we have not done before. There was a place we tried to go to "ghetto golf" in the baltic triangle which looks awesome, however its really new and therefore fully booked (oh well maybe next time!). We decided to go for a walk and explore the baltic triangle as its really starting to be the "cool" place to be.
My husband often cycles around there and had discoved some really urban places where graffiti artists and artists alike go to experiment with their work. He decided to take me to have a look as he knew that this is the sort of thing that we both would like. Now, I know that graffiti is not everyones cup of tea and while I respect that, there are some pieces of graffiti that are just so powerful!
We eventually came to this ally behind an old abandoned warehouse that had clearly been neglected. This is where i seen this piece of graffiti art tagged by someone called F.V. It said
"VOICE OF THE SLUMS"
I don't know why but this instantly struck a chord with me. I began to ask a million questions in my head. "Does the artist think he is the voice of this really run down area, or maybe where he lives or is he trying to convey deeper meaning. Is he trying to shed light on what happening in his life, where he lives, to tell people what urban living is all about"... I had so many questions. I decided to take another approach and instead of thinking what this piece meant for him, I decided to think about what it meant to me.
VOICE OF THE SLUMS
VOICE OF THE SLUMS
VOICE OF THE SLUMS
What does it mean to me??
I want to be that voice. The voice that sheds light on the realities of life and living on a council estate. To make change and break stigmas. Yes council estates are known for poverty because the reality is that the rent of estates are significantly lower than private accommodation. This does NOT MEAN the people are any less of a human being, but actually living here has shown me that there are genuinely lovely people who care about the area.
I was completely overwhelmed at Christmas just gone when we had many neighbours knocking on our door giving us gifts for our kids... however, the gift that completely got to me was one from a neighbour who had sent her 2 boys down with a plate of home made treats which where just delicious. It made my whole Christmas.
The community spirit here is something else! Its a shame that our estate is renowned for the mistakes of its past. I'm not saying its perfect and that there are no gangs... because lets be honest, theres gangs everywhere due to fact that we are not providing them with enough spaces to go! However, we need to look passed the gangs, the stigma of living in a "slum area" and see the real beauty that happens within urban living.
Councils need to invest into these estates alot more, provide things for the kids to do right on their doorstep and they may just see crime rates come down. Our young people need someone to look up to! Its great to see some of the dads on the estate stepping into this role naturally with something as simple as playing football.
Over the next year we aim to work with our local community alongside other local charities, organisations, housing trusts and hopefully the council. We aim to break the stigma of urban living and put this place back on the map as positive place with genuine community spirit. Thank you for all those who have invested, donated, bought cakes, and volunteered for us. By doing so, you are allowing us to put on events, help others who wouldn't necessarily get the help they need but most of all create a community spirit that is a driving force for our next generation. I want people to WANT to move onto estates like ours, not wanting to "escape" them.....YOU play an important part... and all together, we can be
THE VOICE OF THE SLUMS.
Thanks for reading.
Love Rach, just an ordinary girl trying to make a difference xxxx