Lockner needs YOU!
Having a residents association is really important for an estate. It gives the estate power and a voice that is heard within the council - direct communication with senior managers for help with things. As well as this, having a registered association also means that the estate can apply for funding to put on community events.
If you have found yourself exasperated by things; cleaning, anti-social behaviour, or felt on the periphery of the Lockner community and lockdown has just increased your feeling of isolation - this is a chance to change all of that.
I've been the chair of the association for 12 years, and I'd like very much to hand the baton to someone else now. Fran (our secretary) has moved away and is no longer in post, and Maria (our treasurer) is under an increasing professional workload. So at the next AGM, we will need to elect new, fresh people, in order to carry on.
I have a written a little about the benefits, demands and roles of managing the residents association below.
Let me tell you a little about my journey as the Chair of the association...
I got involved when me and my (then boyfriend) moved to Lockner and I realised that we would likely start a family while we were living here. I came from a part of London I had grown up in and really missed the close knit community, so I thought that getting involved with the residents association here on Lockner would be the perfect way to get to know and love my new home. And it's been wonderful. I can remember waiting to go into labour with my second child, contingency planning if it were to happen early, and in the middle of the night. The simple, and heart warming fact was that there were more friends that I had made on Lockner than I could count on my hand who I would have been completely comfortable to call for help - for them to take in my sleeping toddler in the middle of the night. My boys often groan about how long it takes for me to walk them to school because of all the stopping to chat to people I do on the way. That's what this role has given me - life long friendships, amazing memories, god-children, and the joy of hearing my children playing out in the summer safely, knowing that it's not just my eyes and concern keeping them safe as they enjoy a freedom that many children growing up in Urban London do not have.
I have also felt empowered. When the council wanted to put a big cage with gates around Lockner - we fought and won. When the estate has looked shabby and parts have been neglected, we highlight it - and it improves. When anti-social behaviour is raised at a meeting - we band together as a collective and bring it to the right people's attention. The residents association has direct communication lines, and a good relationship, with senior management in the council. So when issues are highlighted, and people need some advocacy, we are effective.
The roles are completely and entirely what you decide to make of them. Give it as much, or as little as you like. As a bare minimum you need to schedule and attend four community meetings a year. And that is all. That's all the commitment is. That is all that's required for us to have a residents association - to maintain direct lines with council senior management, to apply for funding for community events. Anything else you or our neighbor's want to achieve is just the icing on the cake. There is loads of support and courses available from the council if you're not confident or unsure - they will do as much hand holding as you need, the 'resident participation team' are a supportive and friendly bunch.
Below is a very brief description of the roles:
All officers in the residents association together create an agenda (list of things to get through and talk about) for every meeting. Things like chasing up stuff from the previous meetings that the council were supposed to do, and adding anything else that you would all like raised (issues with cleaning, sheds, or getting the thumbs up from the community to spend some association money on a social event etc). This can be done over a coffee or glass of wine, or by email/WhatsApp, whatever suits you all the best.
Chair the meetings - guide people attending through the agenda; politely moving people onto the next topic and make sure there is a plan agreed at the end of each topic.
Keeps the notes, advertises the meetings and their outcomes.
Steps in for the chair when they are absent, and shares the work load.
Perhaps the most important person! With help from the others (and the council) applies for the grants and funding for social activities, pays for them and keeps the records and bank account safe.
Although the roles are defined - in reality, everyone chips in to help with everything, it's a collective effort. The most important thing I would suggest you could do with these roles is to provide a platform to bring people closer together, get neighbor's involved, interested and on board.
You can see what we have been up to since 2008 by clicking on our old website here. And there is a beautiful account of the beginnings of Lockner's annual Big Lunch written by a former resident and poet Shan Solanki here. Lockner estate was the first estate in London to hold a Big Lunch, and we have led the way for others to enjoy the same. The Big Lunch is now a nationwide event, the council now provide funding to every estate in Hackney (...with a residents association!) to host their own. The Big Lockner Lunch has been used as a nationwide case study by the Eden project and National Lottery, and has graced the front pages of Hackney Today and the Gazette.
If you'd like any more information or a chat, please get in touch!