Big hearts make Moss Side a caring community
As Moss Side remembers the rioting that erupted in its streets 30 years ago, residents describe a very different Moss Side today: one where community action is thriving and has long been in existence. Penny Shannon reports.
Former Moss Side councillor Gabrielle Cox, has been closely involved in the Hideaway Youth project, which has been providing support and advice for youngsters in Moss Side for 45 years. She says that while Moss Side has suffered from an image problem, groups like Hideaway 'help youngsters to make the most of their lives by believing in themselves and looking ahead'.
" Unfortunately the area has had a reputation based on a small number of young men in the 1980s and some of the legacy has lingered," she says.
"Myths are hard to dispel. People who don't know the area may remember the headlines, but what they don't realise is that there's an entire community working together who have made so many of those issues a thing of the past."
That sense of community is one of the reasons Gabrielle has lived in Moss Side for almost 30 years.
"People make the mistake of thinking that inner cities have no social capital," she says, "and that couldn't be further from the truth in Moss Side, which is one of the most community-focused wards in Manchester.
" I've lived here since 1972 and what still impresses me about the area is how much local people are prepared to campaign for local issues which matter to their families."
Phil Dodd, has also lived in Moss Side for 30 years - and 21 of those years have been in his home in Cranswick St. He too remembers the riots, but is quick to say that teamwork has united the area and 'restored the pride in Moss Side'.
Helped by the Council and Adactus Housing Association, Phil and other neighbours started the Cranswick Square residents group in May 2009, to bring the streets and neighbouring roads back together again.
"As a group we all share the same views and support each other," he says. "We started off making little changes like putting hanging baskets in the street and gradually it developed into bigger projects to improve the image of the area."
One of those projects included transforming a plot of derelict land into a modern-day oasis in an area known as The Triangle behind Edith Avenue, Lloyd Street South, Driffield Street and Cranswick Street.
Working with other residents, Phil and a team of volunteers have created a mini-orchard, allotments, barbecue area, lawn and patio. They received £3,500 from the Council and £3,000 from Adacutus Housing Association for the project. However, they estimate that had the work been carried out professionally it would probably have cost around £20,000.
"We all decided that we needed to take responsibility for our community," says Phil, "so, that's what we did."
"Recently one of residents said to me that if he won half a million on the lottery he would still find it hard to leave Moss Side. That sums up how we all feel about the area."