It hardly seems possible but my local Cluny Residents Association (CRA) has been going for eight years. We have open meetings that any interested in the Cluny area may attend, usually attended by one or more local councillor and professionals working in the area, and closed committee meetings, usually the third Monday in alternative months, and assist in various community events and activities.
I like to think we are making a difference. We are constitutionally bound but rather than this being a shackle that binds us it helps give us focus and direction. We are here to serve the residents of all 600+ dwellings in our local area. In eight years, while all sorts of people have claimed credit, we have done our bit in making Cluny a better place. Whether it is house repairs, noisy neighbours, drug dealing, security, parking on verges or biggies like improvements to Cluny Park and future health care provision, and a whole raft of other issues, we work with our partners to get results and often succeed.
On the subject of giving credit where credit is due, we should thank Chris Sollis, a local youth worker, who saw the need for an association such as ours, as did Jackie Jones, our then local police community support officer (PCSO), and Tracey Hannington, from South Essex Homes, for her unstinting support since then.
I’m posting now as I am keen to plug some meetings we are having on 19th May, with a fun but also engaging theme, aimed especially at folk who don’t usually attend our meetings. I do hope people will come because by taking an interest in our local area and working together we can make a difference. Compared with eight years ago, Cluny Square and the surrounding area is nicer now than it was then and we have played our part but we still have a way to go.
It was not so long ago that Cluny was seen as a hotspot of anti-social behavior, a far cry from the religious, monastic origins of the name. While there are still issues to address, a reason why we need an association is to take up the various causes. We have come a long way to claiming the name back for the good people. We still remain keen to build a strong community where individuals feel valued.
For a lot of that time I have been CRA chair. As a resident, my family was affected by anti-social behavior, and I saw the only way this and other issues affecting the community could be addressed was by adopting a multi-agency approach. Given we have worked with local councilors of all parties, council officials, youth services, health services, South Essex Homes, the Police, local schools and churches in order to get results shows that such an approach does work.
We have been particularly successful in helping to lay on community events, more so than our residents meetings in fact. Seeing the results of our endeavours is the high point and advocating for improvements, e.g. currently this includes a local community charity shop and St. Lukes Health Centre, helps spur us on. The low point is resident apathy and not enough people getting actively involved.
But right now, and notwithstanding, CRA is open for business. There is a lot more that could be done and we invite folk to join us.