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Estate is rising from the ashes

RESIDENTS in Smith’s Wood have started a project to bring their community back together again.

RESIDENTS in Smith’s Wood have started a project to bring their community back together again.

Locals claim that the regeneration project caused huge upheaval and tore the heart out of the estate

Now a group of volunteers have joined forces to set up the Smith’s Wood Area Neighbourhood Network (SWANN).

Malcolm Cullen, chairman, said their aim was to rebuild a sense of solidarity.

“The regeneration ended up a reconstruction and there was a lot of anger among local people,” said the father-of-two.

“They demolished bungalows where old people lived, took away green spaces and didn’t consult with residents.

“But now we want to put that behind us and build bridges - people should be proud to live here.”

SWANN has recently opened two premises at the Arran Way shopping parade, badly damaged in an arson attack last year.

One unit has been turned into a community drop-in centre, another has become a second-hand shop - both are run by unpaid volunteers.

And last Wednesday, the group organised a community celebration at Smith’s Wood Sports College.

Debbie Todd, from Solihull Council’s education department, said the day had been a roaring success.

Police, the fire brigade, schoolchildren and boxing champion Wayne Ellcock, pictured, were among those who took part.

“The aim is to roll-out schemes similar to the SWANN project to the other wards in north Solihull,” said Debbie.

“It would nice to have a similar set-up in Chelmsley Wood and Kingshurst.

“And because we’re in such a central location, we’ve got people from regeneration schemes all over the country who want to see what’s happening here.”

Grants totalling more than £18,000 have also been a big boost to the organisation.

* The SWANN shop and offices are open 10am-4pm (Monday to Friday) and 10am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you want to get involved call Malcolm on 07878 039 118.

 

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