25 Jun 2024

Social Life report for Grahame Park out now

We wanted to share with you research which we commissioned from Social Life, looking at residents’ experiences.

This social impact assessment was carried out in summer and autumn of 2023 across the Grahame Park regeneration in Barnet, North London.

“[You] have to see it as an opportunity site. Some people have chosen to see it as a negative. [But] there are a lot of opportunities.” Resident

One of the most positive aspects of the report are the findings which show the significant feeling of local pride on Grahame Park.  A strong sense of community is notable across all tenures, and it was a top reason for why people like living in the area. Residents were also pleased with the transport links and location – the fact it’s close to Colindale and Mill Hill as well as the proximity to amenities like schools. Health services and a range of third sector organisations that are very active and involved locally are also recognised as a valuable asset.

“[I] feel like it (the regeneration) has bonded the community more. It had a very bad reputation before, and I had not seen this as a place to live before. Now with the regeneration, it’s more positive.” Resident

More negatively, anti-social behaviour and crime are consistently the top challenges facing the area, with drug dealing and addiction a close second. We are working with the council to try and combat this through the ‘Clear, Hold, Build’ framework which has seen local officers from the Metropolitan Police engage in a coordinated crackdown on gang-related and organised crime. Police have now moved from the ‘Clear’ to the ‘Hold’ phase of the operation, which is designed to stabilise the area and stop other offenders from moving in to fill the void. The ‘Build’ phase will see community-driven action to address the causes of crime and prevent it from happening again.

“There are good things about Grahame Park and there is a history that should not be dismissed because new buildings are going up - it is not all bad.” Stakeholder

On health, many residents mentioned not being able to access a GP, and the prevalence of mental health issues, particularly since the Covid pandemic. Through our community foundation we are funding free mental wellbeing sessions through our ZEN Project. We also commissioned a community sports club delivering football and basketball to boys and girls every week. Our ‘Let’s Get Active’ programme is delivering free Boxfit, yoga, 1-2-1 health coaching and walking classes to our residents for free and is even linking to local health centres so that we can receive referrals from local GPs. In 2023/24 we helped 677 residents access physical wellbeing activities 801 residents access social and mental wellbeing activities.

We commissioned Center of Excellence on Grahame Park to deliver a ‘Father and Son’ project bringing men from the east African community together to help facilitate conversations between generations. These discussions are focused on topics which are rarely spoken about in the community, such as mental health, emotional wellbeing and domestic abuse, to encourage participants to address challenging issues. We provided match funding to FUSE Youth Project to expand their current programme of activities to include counselling sessions for young people, mental health workshops and a parent support group. Grahame Park also now has a wellbeing support check-in service every week focused on emotional wellbeing and crisis support, while drug and alcohol support is also provided weekly through Change Grow Live (CGL).

We found many residents were concerned that the estate is being neglected and many mentioned the uneven pavements as a source of negativity. We’re pleased to say that Barnet Homes has now resurfaced the concourse which should help with accessibility. On top of this we are revitalising the concourse by painting the shutters on unused units, and have introduced a new, colourful series of fingerpost signs and maps of the estate.

“[The Concourse] was the piazza – you could sit there and meet people. Yes it fell on hard times – bring it back and make it work. There are workshops and classes [now].” Stakeholder

In terms of economic inclusion, Grahame Park is one of the most deprived areas of Barnet, and the research found that there is a widespread perception of a lack of opportunities. Through the Make It Happen programme we have developed strong relationships with local initiatives, delivering employability, life skills and training towards qualifications to secure employment into a variety of sectors such as construction, retail, hospitality, health and social care.

“Would be nice to have café and parks, local independent shops, a place that feels comfortable for the kids to be and play. We don’t have that locally.” Resident

As well as providing 2,088 new homes, the regeneration will bring a community centre, nursery, shops, cafes, restaurants and flexible workspaces for local businesses.

The findings of the Social Life report are crucial in ensuring that residents influence our work as the regeneration continues. We are proud to use the opportunity to maintain a dialogue with the community, and to act on the issues that matter most.

You can read the full summary report here.