Young people in Grangetown have set out their hopes for a better community as part of a Cardiff University research project.
The series of workshops for children and young people aged eight to 18 saw them reflecting on the impact of the pandemic on their lives, as well as discussing what is needed to improve the neighbourhood going forward.
Setting out their views on what matters to them, the plan calls for:
- A safer and cleaner neighbourhood - with an emphasis on reclaiming abandoned or disused areas, as well as safe streets;
- - with play lanes for younger children, clubs, cafes and activities for teenagers, play opportunities specifically for girls and young women, as well as play equipment for older children;
- A move to greener living - which includes improvements to existing parks, along with more vegetation and biodiversity in the area, and access to green and active travel;
- A community that helps everyone - with designs taking disabled people’s needs into account, safe spaces for women, a mental health help centre, housing and employment support and activities and workshops for the elderly.
The research team will now evaluate their findings and decide on one project to improve the area which aims to address an issue raised by the young people. It will be delivered later in the year.
Eleeza Khan, aged 16, who has just finished her GCSEs at Stanwell School, has lived in Grangetown all her life.
She said: "The pandemic was hard because I’d never done home schooling before. I have four sisters and we had to share devices to do our school work. But after a while we did get used to it and I helped my little sister with her work too.
"The research project was interesting to be part of and it’s been good to have our views heard. We mapped our favourite places in Grangetown. My favourite place is Grange Pavilion - every time I come there is always an activity.
"I would say the litter is a big issue in Grangetown that needs to be tackled and I think there could be more green areas. When you have a nice area, it makes you appreciate where you are instead of going further afield."
Moneab Nekeb, aged 13, lives in Riverside and goes to Fitzalan High School. He said: "I liked how the project got young people together to talk about their area, if there needs to be changes and if that should be done right now or later on.
"I like it that there are a lot of areas like the pavilion that help the community. You can spend time in the garden and there’s a library where you can read books and sit down.
"I think there could be more communal areas and more parks for young people and those that are a little bit older."
Project lead Dr Matluba Khan, based at the University’s School of Geography and Planning, said: "It has been a privilege to work and learn from these young people, who are so passionate about the place where they live. They have come up with an inclusive and positive vision for Grangetown, which could improve the wellbeing of the entire community.
"It’s clear the pandemic has had a profound effect on many of them. We heard stories of young people feeling ’anxious’ and ’scared’, of feeling enclosed and bored.
"The work young people have done with us will now form the basis of a recovery plan and toolkit to inform Cardiff’s City Recovery and Renewal Strategy. I am hopeful it will ensure young people’s opinions and needs are central to the future development of Grangetown."
Academics Dr Tom Smith and Dr Neil Harris, also from the School of Geography and Planning and Professor Mhairi McVicar from the Welsh School of Architecture are also involved in the initiative.
Architecture graduate and local resident Shoruk Nekeb has been a community engagement assistant on the project.
Shoruk, who is also director of the Grange Pavilion Youth Forum, said: "I think it’s great that the project will include one intervention to address young people’s wishes for the area. It’s showing them that their views matter."
Building on the success of the University’s flagship community engagement project, Community Gateway , the project includes a number of partners, including Grange Pavilion and Grangetown Schools Advisory Panel, as well as the Child Friendly Cardiff Team at Cardiff Council.