Local residents working together to clean up the neighbourhood as part of their Local Conversation project in Muirhouse, Edinburgh

Community Renewal Trust has been delivering a Local Conversation in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, since 2016.

Local people are determining how they can make their neighbourhood an even better place to live and take action on issues that are important to them through this initiative.

A residents' forum leads delivery and decision making, supported by action groups based around specific themes and ideas, including a youth forum.

Local residents decided on three priorities they want to address: the environment, bringing the community together and community wellbeing. As part of these priorities they are working to maintain and making local green spaces more usable, create more activities and opportunities for local people to come together and socialise, and establish more activities for young people on the estate.

Working with young people is a particularly important priority for the community and motorbike crime has been a big concern in the area. Through discussions, the forum decided that they needed a dedicated youth worker and employed Louise.

More than two years ago, Louise’s 14 year old nephew was killed on a stolen motorbike. Knowing the impact it had on her family, Louise spoke to young people at primary schools about her personal experience.

“We were approached by Police Scotland to ask if we would talk to primary school children about safety,” she said.

“Talking about my personal experience helped bring to light the effect that motorbike crime has not just on families but also the wider community.

“It had a profound impact because I am from Muirhouse myself so people knew my nephew and our family.”

Following the engagement, Police Scotland highlighted the impact the work has had on motorbike crime statistics in the area, which significantly dropped.

Through the Local Conversation, there are more activities for young people available, with more than 20 young people involved. Laura, the Project Coordinator for the Local Conversation, said: “We are finding that young people have the same priorities as the adults and care about the same issues. It has been great to see them get involved with different aspects of our neighbourhood initiatives, including street clean-ups and gardening projects.”

The project is also working on the 2019 Muirhouse Gala which has 10-15 people actively involved. They recently met with local organisations who want to be represented at the gala.

Laura explained: “It has been really amazing because the idea to bring the gala back came from the community, who were talking about how nice it used to be and that it was a way for everyone to know what is happening in the area.

“We had a film night where we showed old gala films from the 80’s which was fantastic, it really brought everyone together.”

People are slowly starting to realise their power and lead the project, thinking about how they can improve their wider community.

The project is funded by People’s Health Trust using money raised by Health Lottery Scotland.

The project is one of 20 place-based projects across Great Britain. The aim is to address health inequalities by ensuring that control is in the hands of local people. It recognises the local wisdom and assets of residents and looks at the ways in which stronger relationships, improved confidence and aspiration, and control over money and resources support people to improve their health.

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