Dirty Fun: A Community Spring Clean Event

Just before Easter I had the pleasure to organise a clean-up day on one of our most deprived housing and regeneration estates in Grahame Park and wow it event made it into the local press!

Julia Leszczak Spring Clean Article Grahame Park

Click picture for full article

Organising the event was a big pleasure as I managed to bring a range of partners of all sizes and backgrounds together to make this community day possible.

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The local community of Grahame Park came out to make a difference

Barnet Homes staff, Genesis Housing Association, Lovell, the Living Way Ministries and the Stonegrove Estate Youth Project, Saracens, not to mention all the wonderful partners helping by just turning up on the day or promoting the event, including the local 50+ group and the local library.

The idea was not only to give the tired public spaces a makeover and make them look fresh and inviting again, but also for the local community to take ownership and pride of where they live.

The success of the event was overwhelming and in the end we had over 100 helpers, residents and stakeholders from the local community, including MP Andrew Dismore and councillor Nagus Narenthia, who sprang into action and got their hands dirty.

Activities on the day included:

Painting of Railings and Benches

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The Regeneration Housing team painting benches in front of the local library

Planting Hanging Baskets and the new Community Garden

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Volunteers from the local community planting the new community garden

Painting the scruffy looking Plant pots in front of the community centre

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Busy little girls are painting the plant pots in from of the community centre

Sweeping, Litter Picking and De-mossing

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Even MP Andrew Dismore and Councillor Nadus Narenthia joined the local commnuity and got their hands dirty on the day

Of course the event wouldn’t have been quite like me without a small fun element…

There was great music all the way and for all helpers there was a free lunch, sponsored by Barnet Homes and provided by one of our local partners. Our young helpers then had the pleasure to take part in our Easter egg hunt provided by SEYP & sponsored by Genesis HA.

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The Concourse is getting new hanging baskets

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The BBQ crew kept all volunteers nourished and entertained

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Younger helpers are preparing for the Easter egg hunt

Oh did I mention that all helpers got a pretty Spring Clean badge as ID and favour… OK I might be the only one excited about that, but it featured our fabulous event flyer

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All helpers enjoyed themselves so much on the day and I was positively shocked that all of them came in different ages and from very diverse backgrounds.


Some might wonder, what the point of a community clean-up was if the estate was going to be regenerated anyway and I have tried to collect 5 points, that I hope might explain that such events are as important on Regeneration estates they are elsewhere:

  1. The target area is likely to exist for 2 or maybe even 3 more years. This is a long time and considering that people will still be using these spaces until then, a single day of doing a bit of freshening up does not seem unreasonable in comparison I believe. I mean, would you stop cleaning your kitchen, just because you might have one fitted within the next couple of months?
  2. In a recent survey residents identified scruffy looking public areas as one of their main concerns on the estate.
  3. Most helpers commented that it was great to come out and work in the fresh air and meet their neighbours.
  4. Many people enjoyed meeting their housing officers and got valuable advice on all sorts of troubles and this within an informal and relaxed setting.
  5. Meeting local stakeholders meant that most helpers got a better idea about activities and opportunities available on their estate. And while we do our best to promote all these opportunities via Twitter, newsletter, website and our resident magazine – nothing seems to beat face-to-face contact!

Here are some before-and-after pictures of the Grahame Park Concourse

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