Show some pride and have some respect for your neighbours!

When we used to do door to door distribution of the (now defunct) South Essex Heckler and also when we’ve worked on neighbourhood clean ups, it has to be said that we’ve seen some sights. Some of those sights involving overgrown, rubbish strewn gardens are an indicator of dysfunctional households in a neighbourhood who are dragging it right down. The kind of places where if (for whatever reason) you do decide to venture to the front door, you really do need to watch where you put your feet in case there’s a festering pile of dog shit lurking in wait!

We’re not sociologists but we do recognise there are a variety of reasons why some households become dysfunctional and why there are obvious physical manifestations of that in the form of neglected gardens strewn with rubbish. Sometimes it may be that the residents have difficulties in coping which need professional intervention but sadly have fallen through the net…

In cases like this, while it’s not providing the full solution that’s needed, could it be the case that neighbours rallying round to help with keeping the garden under control will be a start in turning things round? In an age of permanent austerity, more and more people are going to fall through the net and like it or not, it’s down to us to recognise that and offer what help we can. As neighbours, we’re likely to have a fair inkling as to whether it’s a case of people who simply can’t cope on the one hand or scumbags on the other hand…

Then there are the scumbags – the renegades within that we’ve already written about. People who don’t have any issues other than they don’t have any self respect or consideration for their neighbours. In cases like this, it’s only varying forms of community devised and implemented sanctions that are going to have any chance of getting the message across that the household in question needs to get its act together pronto…

The saddest sights of all are the gardens of the elderly and infirm where there are indications that in happier, healthier days, the garden was their pride and joy. Again, could it be the case that neighbours rally round to offer an hour every week or so to help get the garden back under control, helping to boost the morale of the elderly and infirm residents?

Basically, what we’re talking about are some small steps that can be taken to maintain morale and start to build a sense of community solidarity. It only takes a few households where there are problems that have a physical manifestation such as neglected gardens to drag the morale of a neighbourhood right down. What we’ve tried to do above is very briefly outline what we think the problems may be and offer some suggestions for solutions appropriate to the circumstances.

It’s about looking out for each other but also holding each other to account. Both of which are vital in building the community solidarity we so desperately need in the face of grinding austerity. It’s the building of community solidarity that’s needed as the first step to bringing about real, fundamental change from the grassroots upwards.

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