Tensions between different groups on Ipswich estate revealed
A grassroots group set up to investigate quality of life in an Ipswich suburb has revealed a number of tensions between people in the area.
However those behind the new Whitehouse Wanderers group believe the positive response they have had shows a willingness on all sides to engage with each other to improve the area,
The group, supported by Ipswich Community Media and the company Voist, has been touring the area to ask people what they think of living there amid fears the suburb which is home to 10,000 people "hasn't got what all the other estates in Ipswich have got".
Although they found many positives to living in Whitehouse, such as its proximity to Ipswich town centre and the Anglia Retail Park, concerns were raised early on about the lack of a 'central hub' and community space.
And now a report by the Whitehouse Wanderers on their survey findings has revealed that: "A theme to emerge from the conversations is around general community unity and cohesion.
What would people in Whitehouse like to see change?
■ More shops
■ Crackdown on anti-social behaviour
■ Community noticeboard set up
■ Introduction of a mobile library
■ Improvements to bus services
"There are a number of tensions (underlying rather than endemic) related to others' lifestyles, language, culture and approach (both towards minority ethnic groups and also the wider community).
"It would be highly recommended to explore the cause and appropriate solutions to this."
But Tilley Harris, from Voist, said the process of the survey itself was a step in the right direction to solving what she called a "disconnection" between different groups.
"The process in itself, in terms of getting neighbours to have in depth discussions with each other, has been quite novel for a lot of people - and there needs to be more of that," she said.
"Because there's a lot of disconnection, there's a lot of tension between groups and lot of people feeling unsafe and fearful of each other.
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"That seemed to be a massive theme.
"I think we feel that with the right kind of engagement, services and more proactivity, people wanted to come together and spend more time having these conversations and see what can be done."
The report suggested "micro mapping" and focusing on very specific areas of Whitehouse to pinpoint certain issues and make them easier to tackle.
Ms Harris also said funding for small, specific projects - rather than a single major one - would be more effective in tackling community unity.
However the Whitehouse Wanderers would need to be smart about applying for the the right type of grants, she said.
"The number of people who completed the survey is such a signifier that people do want to be asked and want to talk," she added.
"For some reason, people are just really disconnected. The key themes are to build bridges between different sections."
One particular challenge, some people said, is that there is no central place where people can find out information about Whitehouse.
There has therefore been talk of setting up a community noticeboard or newsletter.
"A lack of spaces and places for people and families to go to and participate in activities is highlighted," the Whitehouse Wanderers' report said.
"Concern is expressed by many regarding a lack of spaces and activities for young people to make use of."
The Whitehouse Wanderers now plans to send its report to authorities such as Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Constabulary.
The group, made up of neighbours Teresa Andrews, Becca Jackaman, Bernadette Manners and Wendi Keeble, has been praised for trying to take positive action to improve where they live.
Kim Trotter, founder of the Future Female Society - which is also supporting the Whitehouse Wanderers - said: "The hope is that people who have been involved in the survey will be galvanised to do things in the community and start making changes in Whitehouse.
"What's great about the Whitehouse Wanderers is that it's a bunch of women who've stepped up to make positive change."
■ What do you think of life in Whitehouse? Write, giving your full contact details, to email@example.com
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