People have seen their lives change dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Leith as in many other places, local residents experienced problems such as loneliness, financial uncertainty, and mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression. However, there have been many positives – people have improved their well-being by using their outdoor spaces more, such as local parks, and getting involved with their local communities. During recent months, we have seen more people helping each another and bringing extra positivity to the local area.
Leith Community Crops and Pots (now Earth in Common) took a barren wasteland next to the links and over the years have transformed it into a community hub with a growers area, numerous activities, the Hingabootery Cafe, (which produced endless meals for the homeless over the first lockdown), and a weekly Sunday Farmers Market. This has been a lifeline of ours, especially through the lockdowns. Its a great place for children to explore and play, and for adults to enjoy too. It was so encouraging to see they were awarded almost £1m for their proposals for further improvements.
During the first lockdown period, a local resident, Sarah Fraser took it upon herself to relieve her street of graffiti, litter and weeds, to make the environment more pleasant for herself and her fellow residents. Although she worked independently at first, her neighbours quickly joined in once they learned of her efforts and saw the difference she was making. They started up their group ‘Friends of Giles Street’ and have done numerous projects to improve their area.
One wall previously plastered with graffiti now plays host to an impressive mural created by local artist Robbie Broome. The artwork pays tribute to the area’s history of shipbuilding and ropemaking.
Edible Estates also got involved, supporting their work to develop the green space.
The lockdown period gave community members the chance to turn their free time into something positive. It has also got many people speaking to their neighbours for the first time. The street is now clean, safe and pleasant for children and adults alike. A real inspiration to see what can be done.
At AboveBoard Homes, we love this kind of work and are keen to see more. The pandemic has allowed us to gain a better understanding of our purpose.
Sadly, the group ‘Leithers Don’t Litter’ has now disbanded. However, work undertaken by other local groups shows what can be achieved when communities are engaged and determined to make improvements. These efforts summarise why we carry out our work.
We actively encourage community members to work together to save money on improving their blocks, developments and local areas. We firmly believe that getting to know your neighbours and becoming more active in your local community creates happier homes and promotes social inclusion.
We encourage more homeowners and tenants to work together and help out with various jobs in their developments and neighbourhoods. These projects enable residents to restore pride in their buildings, local areas, helps them feel more connected to each other and saves precious funds.
Working from home is far more common now, and can help us save substantial time and money. However, the reductions in human interaction caused by home working can create intense feelings of loneliness. Home working can also make it harder for us to “switch off” at the end of the working day as work-life lines become increasingly blurred.
Redundancy is another big reason for more people being forced to stay home. Many local residents are left feeling somewhat cut off from the wider community as a result of redundancy. This makes the perfect opportunity to reach out to neighbours, and collaborate on vital projects to enhance their lives and of those around them.
This simple infographic guide will help you to change factor.