Survey finds community spirit alive and well in Harringay
A face-to-face survey carried out in Harringay by St Paul’s Church has found that the majority of residents value the area’s sense of community and diversity above all other factors.
When asked what they like most about living in Harringay, almost 60% of people cited a sense of living amongst a diverse and neighbourly community, whilst a large proportion of residents said they are concerned about a lack of youth services and community activities in the area.
The Harringay Listening Project, co-ordinated by Brian Mak, a volunteer at St Paul’s Church, with the help of the Revd Pete Snow, the Priest in Charge, has been carried out over the last twelve months, with volunteers from St Paul’s knocking on doors every weekend to listen to the concerns and priorities of local people. Now at the half way mark, the project will continue for another year. So far, volunteers have knocked on 1,600 doors and have carried out 550 conversations with residents.
Rubbish and crime also featured heavily as priorities for the people of Harringay, with many of those St Paul’s spoke to worrying that a lack of youth services, overcrowded housing and inadequate collection facilities exacerbated problems in the area.
Speaking about the findings of the first phase of the project, Revd Pete Snow, Priest in Charge at St Paul’s Harringay, said:
“What our conversations have shown is how much people value community in Harringay, and how deeply rooted people feel here. When we speak to people on the doorstep, they often talk about how many years they’ve lived here, about being friends with their neighbours, and feeling completely at home here. Whilst it’s often said that many want to leave London or escape big cities, our conversations with our neighbours have shown the opposite. They are proud to be Londoners and they love living here. We want to join in with and celebrate that. It chimes with our belief that cities are a gift from God and are full of valuable people.
“It’s also the case that people’s worries about a lack of community-wide services and activities for young people are linked to how much they care about their neighbourhood. They are aware that having young people who don’t feel a part of the place they live can lead to increased crime, or that inadequate rubbish collection is often the result of overcrowded housing. People are deeply engaged in what’s going on here and want to see the very best for the borough.
“We have also found a widespread belief in God in the people to whom we’ve spoken. Nearly one in four of the people we surveyed wanted prayer in our first conversation. While it is clear to us that not everyone would call themselves a believer, these requests for prayer have led to some moving encounters and our sense that we can help with some of the burdens our neighbours are carrying.
“Our volunteers have given up a lot of their time over the last year, and they have done an amazing job. As the project continues we’ll aim to listen hard and learn as much as possible about how we and other members of the community can try to improve the interactions and relationships we have with others and the services we provide. We believe that the church has good news about our Lord Jesus Christ, and we need to learn to listen as well as to preach.”