Walking tours of deprived areas given Lottery funding
Walking tours of two of country’s most deprived areas, taking in such delights as the Asian Resource Centre and a police station, have been granted £38,000 Lottery funding.
What could possibly go right after a headline like that!
The Telegraph has been at it again having a dig at a local initiative by someone who grew up in the area and is putting something back. The critique is asking, what is on the face of it, a fairly ‘common sense’ question, why on earth would tourists flock to an area known for crime, riots and gangs? The critique is also having a dig at funders ‘throwing’ good public money at obviously ridiculous projects.
The truth is that if you’re a local person, proud of where you live and passionate about creating a better future, there’s no point looking to someone else to make things better or to even giving you good positive press. So why do organisations like Legacy WM do what they do?
To my mind there are a number of key reasons why it’s important to big up your area for the right reasons – to rediscover, celebrate and draw inspiration from our heritage. these include:
Reversing postcode blight – B21 postcode! forget it! insurance companies remember crime, riots and gangs; premiums are high, banks move, post offices close, businesses are reluctant to invest, assets lose their value, grant dependency looms.
Reclaiming the brand – areas like Handsworth and Lozells have a rich history which gets lost under the newspaper headlines and television news clips. When the media and agency walas have got there scoops and their dosh, they go leaving the area to the locals. When the morning comes and the locals tie up their boot straps, they are the ones who have to create their own future by building on their assets and the strengths of their past – their heritage and their resilience.
Regenerating your neighbourhood – local people, neighbourhood forums and residents groups, local traders, schools, third sector organisations, local agency workers and a list of others, are the life blood of our country’s neighbourhoods and towns; that is why projects to change the negative perceptions of others and the realities and possibilities of locals are so important.
Heritage trails are an important part of rediscovering and drawing inspiration from our past; our inner cities are full of amazing histories and inspirational stories. So, the best of British to Legacy WM and to all those who build similar ships of adventure to explore the seas and rivers of our shared heritage; and our shared future. The spirit of enterprise is alive and kicking, and long may it remain.