The Spirit of Our Neighbourhood

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Six years ago, a few people sat together and said: “well we should just stop moaning about it and do something”. That fateful statement led to the creation of Gorgeous Gorse Hill and we’ve just held our fifth AGM {AGM Notes} just under a month ago.

It’s been an incredible journey, not without its highs and lows. Who knew flowers and butterflies on roller shutters could be so controversial! But, that challenge has led to some of the positives, those of us who act as the group Committee have learnt so much on this journey, how to engage other residents, how to work with the Council and sometimes without them. The things we’ve achieved have ultimately led to an area with a clear identity; where many still don’t know where Gorse Hill is as soon as you mention the mosaic bollards or the Pocket Paradise they soon do. I’m proud that we’ve been able to give the area an identity beyond the place with all the take aways and where Manchester United is.

When we started all those years ago, I don’t think we imagined we would have spent our sixth year of existence working out how we could maintain our pocket parks during the middle of a pandemic – but we managed to do it.

I think what the last year has shown me is the tenacious nature of Gorse Hill residents, how many are willing to help others, whether that’s getting involved in the local mutual aid group and shopping for shielding residents, to sharing wood chip and manure on the allotments, to making the alleyways amazing – it’s all been done this year.

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At the heart of what we do, has always been how can we make Gorse Hill nicer for everyone, how can we brighten up someone’s day and make the mundane marvellous. That plays out in many ways: with 1000 snowdrops being planted at Ravenswood Rest Space, to pansies in tree pits, to sparkly bollards and art on substations or having a park renamed after a wonderful local resident – Marje Kelly.

It was this core mission that saw us planning a lantern parade in a pandemic; it is this that I look back on for our sixth year as showing who we are: as residents, neighbours and friends. We knew November was going to be tough – even more so as we ended up in a second lockdown – we knew we needed to bring some light in the darkness. And that’s what we did.

The past six years has been tough at times, but I look back with pride at all we’ve done as volunteers and marvel at my fellow volunteers. Whether they are regular committee members, people who come to volunteer on planting days, people who donated (generously) to the care leavers collection for Gorse Hill Studios or made lanterns and stood in their gardens and waved and applauded as we walked around Gorse Hill in November.

Six years feels a long time, but there’s so much more we can do – together. I feel with the Gorse Hill spirit – we can.