Thursday, 22 March 2012

Thoughts on Leigh Park

My lovely stepson is 22 years old and works with people with learning disabilities.  One of the places he has to work is situated in the middle of a massive housing estate.  A few weeks ago he bought himself a motorbike for a few hundred quid and has been riding it to work.  Then last weekend someone stole his bike from outside the service-users house whilst he was at work.  Yesterday he had to retrieve the bike which had been abandoned a few hundred yards from the house, completely burnt out.  It makes me so angry to think that some idiot did this to such a nice lad.
The housing estate where he works was built in the early 1950s to rehouse the hundreds of families who were bombed out during the second world war.  I remember when it was being built and even used to visit my Aunt and cousins who lived in one of the houses.  Shiny and new, the houses were ultra-modern at the time with smart metal-framed windows and gas boilers to heat the bath water.  There were shops nearby, a library, churches, schools, public houses, all specially built, with plenty of wide open grassy places to play.  The gardens were big too, and most families grew their own vegetables.  Washing could be dried on washing lines rather than those wizzy-round things we have nowadays.  I remember swinging on the washing line in our back garden.  Leigh Park was a very exciting place to live in those days.  We would drive there to visit on a Sunday afternoon, all the way from Fareham, along the top of Portsdown Hill.  You could see the lights in the City down below as you travelled home in the dark.  The sense of community was very strong.
A few years ago I worked in the Drug Treatment Team in Portsmouth and ran a clinic in Leigh Park so I know how things have changed over the years for the people living there.  Still with a strong sense of community but so much poverty which never seems to improve.  At least there was amongst many of those I met.  In the 1990s I also worked as a psychiatric nurse in the area and helped many residents with mental health problems.  I love the estate and the people who live there but I would never leave a motor-bike unlocked in the area.  Sad isn't it?

Tonight is the first night of our village Pantomime - Billy Liar The Pantomime - I am feeling a little nervous about this although quite excited too. So wish me a "break a leg".  I only have two small character parts and a few chorus songs so nothing to worry about.

1 comment:

  1. I lived on the estate from when I was 1 til I was 13 and it was a great place back then.... you say there is much poverty there now, I disagree, have you seen the size of their flat screen tellys shining through most windows and the cool cars many of them drive, and how many spend their money on beer and fags and in the betting office.... I work hard and can only afford the basics to live on..... so, sorry, poverty my arse :) ... it did have a great sense of community back in the day, us kids would go out after breakfast and not come home til dark at the weekends and school holidays, days spend 'down the dumps' as we called it, or the wide open space where the river runs through as it rightly is... we even had flowers in our garden :) no matresses or jacked up cars.. I have hundreds of wonderful memories of growing up in LeighPark as a kid, now, I wouldnt live there if I was homeless.... x