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The Fife Regeneration, Health and Wellbeing Study

Finding out more about the health and wellbeing of the people of Fife

March ’06: What do I think about where I live?

These are 3 pictorial representation of what people told us. You can right click and save each of these images to your desktop as an A4 poster here.

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Where we live poster

Or here

Whats best and not poster

Or here

Wishes poster

Participants were asked to have a conversation about where they live.

We report on what people told us in the following 4 sections:

 

In their short descriptions people talked about their neighbours. They were described as good, and as sociable by some people. Some neighbourhoods were described as quiet and friendly. People liked it that residents look after their gardens. They talked about 'good streets' and 'problem streets'. Problem streets were those most affected by drugs.

One person used the phrase 'junkie town' to describe where they live. Another identified that 'alcohol and drug use comes out of people not coping'. 'Out of control' behaviour was raised as an issue. The combination of young people in tenancies who are using drugs was described as 'making people feel frightened'. One person said one of their key phrases about where they live would be “I’m afraid to leave the door open". Another commented about there being 'too many pubs; and not enough alternative leisure opportunities. Streets were seen as especially noisy at night.

There was a sense from some people that there were general improvements where they lived, with comments like: “It’s not as bad as it’s been” and 'getting better". In some contributions people recognised that housing has improved in recent years because of renovations.

But for others where they live feels like “It’s stuck in a time warp, doesn’t appear to be anything changing”. People also talked about where they lived as being 'rundown' and 'derelict'.

Some people identify that they feel isolated, they identify “There’s no sense of community”. One person said they were “lonely at times”. One person talked about where they live as being “a bonny wee place that’s lost itself”. Another person recorded that: “You can get stuck at home, feel isolated. I could have gone to sleep in September and not woke up till March. Finances make it worse. It goes round and round”.

A sense of isolation is compounded for some people by a feeling that they '"live in the back of beyond”. For them being close knit means “That everybody kens everybody’s business”.

However others identified they lived in a ' strong community' that was 'very neighbourly'. People said that strong families make strong communities. Some people remembered their own upbringing positively. 

In terms of getting about one person identified that there were “Plenty of buses, we can go places”.

In these introductory comments older people mentioned problems with accessing Council services because they found the telephone system “complicated and time consuming”. One contributor talked about a “need for places that actually help, answer the phone. If you can’t get through it’s not helpful”. Another contributor also talked about difficulty in accessing help because “professional people just get caught up in paperwork, then they go off sick. There’s too many patients, too much waiting”. This person continued:

“You’re always being transferred, gets frustrating, services pass the buck. Conversations, communication breaks down. Leaves you feeling a failure, hitting your head of a brick wall.”

One person highlighted that the Council and the Police “don’t take enough responsibility to control people. It shouldn’t be up to me to make a statement and put my children at risk”.

A lack of things to do for children and young people and adults was identified by participants. One person used the phrase “It’s dull and boring for children”. Where some provision had been made it wasn’t always safe to use it. As one contributor described:

“The local skateboard area in the park can’t be used after a certain time because of people using alcohol and drugs and going there with aggressive dogs."

People are also proud of where they live. One person commented that their area “has potential – if you look hard enough and get involved”. Another contributor said: “I love it though, it holds lots of memories”. The natural beauty of Fife was also valued with views such as “There are beautiful views looking onto the Forth.”

One contributor thought that where they live people “have lots of issues… they struggle with finances and emotions” but that People have abilities. They need to have the best help to make them feel they have a goal”. Another person asked:

“How do we stop a waste of life?”

People clearly have different experiences and different perceptions of where they live. This means that some people can identify a lack of community spirit while others value their experience of a strong community. What some people view as a strength in their community, others may see as absent. This is what people said in relation to the best and worst of where they live.

The best of where people live included:

  • Good, helpful neighbours you can trust

  • Community spirit; you can see this in some of the local initiatives that people start up themselves like litter pick-ups.

  • When families are close and supportive of each other.

  • People are helping themselves more through mutual support networks.

  • People helping themselves by working hard.

  • Some services really help – those named in conversations included community psychiatric services (but you can wait a long time to get into the system) and the incapacity team at the Job Centre

  • Good primary schools and nurseries

  • Professional people who are accessible – described by one person as being people who “take the frightening edge of stuff for me."

  • Having different generations of a family living in the same community; with opportunities for older generation to influence the young

  • The services and groups they access like day centres; credit union; elderly forum; mother and toddler groups; youth cafes etc.

  • New housing is going up that is a much better quality but a concern, as expressed by one person, as “new housing isn’t enough without good core values."

  • The efficiency and availability of local transport is very mixed but in some places and on some routes there are good buses

  • Local people setting up their own businesses

  • Open/green spaces and beaches

  • The local curry house

And the worst aspects of where they lived included:

  • People not having hope: “When people feel there isn’t much point in trying.”

  • A lack of work opportunities and a sense amongst young people that you can just get by anyway without working.

  • A combination of lack of childcare and bad transport making the move into work difficult

  • A loss of community spirit and atmosphere

  • Dog dirt

  • Pollution

  • People don’t speak to each other

  • Not enough opportunity for older people to get out and about

  • A feeling that you only live here because of family ties

  • Violence: between young people, toward local shopkeepers

  • A lack of good local shops and other amenities for all ages

  • Drugs and a sense that “no-one bats an eyelid” about it anymore

  • Alcohol abuse can be a very private thing

  • Drugs and alcohol really affect the kind of parent a person can be.

  • Racism and sectarianism

  • Vandalism and graffiti leave you feeling your local area isn’t worth anything

  • Waiting lists for some services like lunch clubs

  • Not enough information about what’s out there that can help

  • A lack of suitable venues for community groups to meet

  • Feels like Council wastes money on things like painting outside of house; but then fails to act quickly enough to do other more essential house repairs such as fix problem with condensation

  • Departments in the Council and NHS not talking to each other or working together to help

  • Young parents can feel especially isolated

  • If you have to shop in local shops food can be more expensive

  • It can feel like local people only have a say about small changes and can’t influence big changes that are happening. This can leave people with a lack of control and worries, especially about the local environment.

  • Feeling that living in a regeneration area means that you are looked down on.

Many wishes were made, they shared these characteristics:

  • A bit of peace and quiet.

  • For neighbourhoods where people were more polite and friendly.

  • More understanding in the community for vulnerable people, support available that helps them day to day, helps them connect with other people.

  • More funding should be given to local people to control, they should be inspired to try to change their communities. Comments included: “I’d love to get my hands on the town centre and change it”. In particular involve more local women in decisions as well as allowing local people to have a meaningful say in decisions that will affect the environment in the long term.

  • Opportunities to “bring folk together” to contribute to change. This would also include community celebrations.

  • More information about what is happening in the community – including news about activities and changes that are being made

  • Schools need to be better at working with parents when their child has disabilities or challenging behaviour. One parent asked: “Why do professionals and teachers feel threatened by parents asking for small but effective changes?”

  • Help that comes before you reach crisis.

  • New play areas for children near where they live

  • Safer communities where Police are visible and where community wardens are more visible especially at night

  • A different view of young people – as part of the solution, not just the problem. On a practical level there were also requests for more leisure and recreation opportunities for young people.

  • Better community facilities that all groups can use

  • People should take more pride in themselves and their communities.

  • More recognition of people who care, and opportunities to build on helping each other

  • Services that listen to individual and community experiences, and care about what people are saying and asking for

  • More chances to learn, not just focused on qualifications, chances for people to have a go and begin to make a difference in their lives.

  • A change in attitudes amongst young people about the acceptability of drug use.

  • More support for parents, and more understanding and acceptance amongst parents that they have a responsibility to look after their children and address problem behaviour in the community.

  • Get all children into school and attending regularly.

  • A focus on good housing and good clean local environment, free from dog mess, where every family with a child has access to a garden and play space.

  • Make and take more opportunities to use Fife’s beautiful coast and countryside to bring jobs and better opportunities to local communities.

  • Improved transport.

What implications are there for regeneration activity, either in terms of policy or practice of service providers? The information from the responses to this question leads to these questions for the agencies managing regeneration activity:

Does regeneration activity:

  • Build on positive views of communities and the strengths that local people identify?

  • Build on the notion of the ‘good neighbour’?

  • Support and enhance family life?

  • Support positive community celebrations?

  • Engage people of all ages in meaningful community development and regeneration activity?

  • Build opportunity for inter generational work and shift stereotypes and public fears about young people?

  • Support local enterprise?

  • Increase opportunities to learn which are not focused on qualifications?

  • Address the social isolation people can experience?

  • Enhance drug and alcohol education for the whole community?

  • Tackle the negative impact that problematic drug and alcohol use is having in communities, including responses to people selling drugs?

  • Continue to improve access to, and the quality of, social housing – both new build and existing stock?

  • Improve access to Council and NHS services – in particular is new information and communication technology improving access or creating barriers?

  • Respond to anti-social behaviour and to promote pro-social behaviour in the community?

  • Increase free leisure and recreation provision for children, young people and families?

  • Create local employment?

  • Improve public transport – both bus and rail?

  • Improve the public spaces in targeted communities, including shops, to help make them look better and feel safer?

  • Impact on policing and the presence of the police in targeted communities?

  • Ensure services are more able to respond to individuals when they need support or help, and to do that promptly?

  • Develop services which are preventative and not overly focused on crisis intervention?

  • Improve communication and coordination of services, and improve the experience of the service user?

  • Share best practice across agencies of person centred, timely, practical/action oriented services which can be identified locally?

  • Support, and enhance support, for existing and well established community groups?

  • Help community groups to promote their service and signpost people to statutory and voluntary sector services they might benefit from?

  • Build the capacity of the individual to do things which build on abilities and enhance their own happiness and that of others?

  • Address the problem of dog mess in public places?

  • Improve access to affordable childcare?