Sandi Phillips: ‘How Elthorne Pride is helping our estate get its community spirit back’
- Credit: Archant
In 2012, there was a minor uproar when Islington Council said the Elthorne Estate “lacked identity”.
Six years on, there’s no way the town hall could get away with repeating that. It’s down to the stellar work of Elthorne Pride, its on the ground community group.
As someone who has lived in the estate for over 30 years, Elthorne Pride chair Sandi Phillips speaks with authority when she says it had lost its way over time.
But, with Elthorne Pride now in its fourth year, Sandi proclaims: “We’re getting our community spirit back.”
The Elthorne Estate, you might remember, was given a massive £1million grant over 10 years. It was part of the Big Local Initiative to improve life on the estate, which was built in the ‘70s.
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So began Elthorne Pride and its campaign to empower its community on issues ranging from young people’s opportunities to employment.
And Sandi, who also chairs the Elthorne 1st Tenant Co-Op and works for a health brokerage company – “I like to help people!” – reckons the project has really started to pick up momentum in the last year.
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She says: “Our ‘big lunch’ earlier this month is an example. It was brilliant. So many people appreciated it because they had the chance to meet their neighbours.
“The idea of people coming together through food is simple but it appeals to many. We had communities from Somalian to eastern European providing fantastic food. People were asking: ‘When can you do another one?’
“That’s what we are trying to offer: a sense of belonging and feeling part of the community.
“It’s made a difference because there has never been an initiative run by local residents to this extent. And it’s sustainable because we’ve been able to plan for 10 years.”
Elthorne Pride’s work is wide-ranging. It works to make sure elderly people are not left isolated, for example, while it has also helped people set up their own stalls at Archway Market.
“I think Elthorne Pride has got our community excited,” Sandi continues. “Whether it’s community safety or the environment, it has got people thinking about what they can do as individuals.”
Though she also warns: “Sometimes you can’t appease everyone all the time. We’re a team of volunteers and only have two workers, so you have to manage the expectations.”
For more information, visit elthornepride.org.uk