Every week residents in Bingham, Edinburgh get together to discuss ideas and produce their local paper - the Bingham Blether. The community newspaper was originally created back in 2002 but ceased to exist until last year when residents from the Local Conversation in Bingham and Magdalene, revived it.
Tracey got involved in the Local Conversation after someone from Community Renewal, (our Local Conversations partner in Scotland) knocked on her door and told her about it. She wanted to get more involved in her community and says she has made new friendships because of her involvement and now has a big role in the Bingham Blether.
In this blog, Tracey explains why the paper is so important to the community and how it is holding people to account.
“The Bingham Blether is a way to make sure people know what is happening in the community. Anyone can write something and send it in and we have about 12 people that are regularly involved in producing it.One of the things that we set out to do was hold people in power to account. In the first issue, we had an open letter to local councillors which really set the tone for the paper. We outlined residents’ concerns in the area including the need for our community centre to be reopened, local environment issues and affordable housing.
In the second edition, the paper gave the councillors the right to reply, starting that dialogue really early on.
So when there was a surge in crime in Bingham, seemingly targeted towards the older and more vulnerable members of our community, we wrote about it. The police weren’t happy about the article but we were just reporting on what was happening in the community and how people felt.
Following the article, there has been a more visible community police patrol. For example, residents at a sheltered housing complex felt unsafe because there were young people hanging around but they feel safer now that the police are more visible.
Community police officers even got involved with our Bingham tunnel day which was one of our concerns that we wrote about in the first edition. The tunnel was dark and intimidating and the lights were broken. We organised a fun day to clean it up and brighten it, making it feel safer for residents.
We produce about 750 copies of each edition. 350 houses in Bingham get it hand delivered as well as local churches. We put them in the local shop, where they go really quickly. We also send it to the council, councillors and MP, who even ask whether they can put something in the paper occasionally.
The local paper is also reaching people that that we might not otherwise. Especially those who had felt isolated. We have one woman who is partially sighted who gets her friend to read it to her cover to cover.
The quality has improved immensely as we learn new skills and it will just keep getting better. Through the Bingham Blether, people are starting to feel part of the community again and take control of issues that are affecting us.”
The Local Conversation in Bingham and Magdalene is funded by People’s Health Trust with money raised through Health Lottery Scotland and supports residents to develop a shared vision for their community and take local action on issues that matter to them. It is supported by Community Renewal.
To read more news from the Trust, click here.
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