Sometimes Splott gets a bad rap; people say that it’s a bad place to live, with bad things going on, but if you look a little closer, you’ll see the total opposite. A place full of vibrant people, a strong community and an abundance of great projects and activities for the benefit of us all.
In the last two weeks, I’ve experienced wonderful interactions that I want to share with you to help illustrate how Splott is quite marvelous and a place I am proud to call home.
Just last Friday we had a bonfire extravaganza and amazing fireworks display organised by our local high school, Willows High, with free access, stalls, activities and delicious food. It brings thousands of local residents together and is a highlight of the year for many, but what you may not know is that this event used to be organised by Communities First and, when that programme ended, so too could have done the bonfire extravaganza if it weren’t for the community spirit of Willows High. Now, the annual event is in their safe hands and through the tireless work of staff, particularly Outreach Officer Natalie Kendrick-Doyle, residents of Splott and Tremorfa can look forward to a spectacular event every year.
Following straight afterwards, a community litter-pick by Keep Splott Tidy to ensure that the grounds of Willows and the streets of Tremorfa were clean the day after. Pupils from the school joined in with residents to collect nearly 30 bags of litter and to demonstrate that the people who live here care for their home. We teamed up with the guys and gals from Friends of Tremorfa Park in the first of many joint ventures to keep our little part of the world looking good, feeling clean and being a welcoming place for residents and visitors.
Last night, I attended a steering group meeting for a project on Railway Street; an amazing initiative led by Becca and Hannah from Green Squirrel to transform a patch of land at the side of the railway line into a vibrant, green, interactive, all-inclusive community hub for the people of Splott and Adamsdown. These two ladies have driven this project forward with minimum funding but complete belief that this is something that will be loved and used by the community. They have done so much for free because they love living in Splott, love the passion from the community for this project and want, so much, to see a transformative project delivered in the east of the city, for a change. They inspired me last night to do more!
This week, I put in a funding application for a mural project o the container behind the STAR centre in Splott Park, which, if successful, will see a local artist work with residents to design and paint a mural on a (pretty ugly) shipping container and turn it into a talking point for residents (not that we need stimulus to talk; Splott is one of the most chatty places I have ever experienced!).
Which brings me on to my last point; how much I love my street.
In the last week, I have ‘borrowed’ a bottle of wine from a neighbour, had a conversation in Welsh in the street with a neighbour and the guy painting my house, offered another neighbour to do their shopping, seen another neighbour look for a stray cat (which luckily found its way home!), had an impromptu wine-laden night out with a neighbour (and set the worlds to right) and been reminded by a very young neighbour that, when I raced him and his brother last summer, they both beat me and they’re only small.
I grew up in the valleys, where community is real, and I can tell you something; I have never felt so much at home, away from home, as I do in Splott.
Thank you everyone; you’ve made me feel happy, connected, positive and never, ever, alone.
Other things I’ve been reminded of since posting the article:
Oh yeah, I’m going to the remembrance concert tomorrow night at St German’s with three neighbours who have become really close friends!
Willows High Community Choir is awesome and I had an absolute blast singing with them, even though I was full of lurgi and sounded like Bonnie Tylor (hey, maybe a good thing!)
I’m going to the Splott Repair Cafe tomorrow in Oasis Centre to see if my rucksack can be fixed! For free!