Merstham Community Facility Trust

25 September 2017

“I was passionate about this cause and for the voice of local people to be heard. Organisations don’t always understand how difficult change is for communities.” Karen Lee, resident

“Our priorities have grown out of a long period of engagement with the community – this isn’t a small community project, it’s a long-term change programme for where we live, and we’re all involved.

Deciding what we wanted to change was an extensive process but it was an important one, and now we’re really starting to see things happen.

Time is so important, you can’t rush these things. The Local Conversations programme gives us the time and space we need to build trust in what we’re doing, and in people’s confidence, and their ability to take the reins.

A Voice for Merstham grew from people feeling they didn’t have access to decision makers or have control over what was happening in their community.

One of the first things the residents’ group did was to campaign to keep a trusted warden, who worked for a local housing association on their patch.

The group organised a protest, made t-shirts, there were banners hanging off balconies – it was a real show of people power. They arranged a meeting with the housing association too and although they didn’t get them to change their mind, they took direct action and it was a big success for the group.

It showed that people will listen and their opinions will be heard, even if they don’t always get the result they want. This is just one small example of the changes residents are making in the neighbourhood as part of the Local Conversation in Merstham.”

Tracey Burrows, community development worker



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