Arlingford and Brailsford Road Residents Association (ABRA) has been operating in our bit of Brixton since the 1980’s. It is a very close-knit community with residents sharing everything from recommendations of workmen or places to eat, to swapping second-hand furniture with each other. Currently ABRA is chaired by Andrej (Zac), who alongside the brilliant committee members keeps everyone informed of what’s going on and keep ABRA rooted in the community. Like many residents’ groups, ABRA has organised campaigns and put on events that develop community spirit, enhance the environment and support good causes.
News and updates are spread by word of mouth or via the fantastic Google group chat set-up by one longstanding resident. Residents are caring and helpful to each other – particularly when it’s come to looking out for the elderly and vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic and where we have over 50 volunteers who are helping look after and support those in need. Overall there’s around 100 of the 300 households on our streets signed up to ABRA, with a number of new members joining the group in the past month either looking for a bit of help or to be there to support others. It really shows the very best of people coming together and the strength of our community!
Supporting community participation whilst volunteering their expertise, professionalism and skills, ABRA has shown that they are willing to take on local challenges. ABRA’s ‘operation freshen-up’ is a great example of how residents groups can partner with the Metropolitan Police and Lambeth Council’s departments like the community safety team, environmental services, housing office and parking patrols to clear the streets of rubbish, drug dealing, dumped cars, graffiti and illegal parking.
As a resident and former Secretary of ABRA (in 2004 – before I became a councillor), it is heart-warming to see how much our community benefits from having a resident’s group and the volunteers that keep it going. I have enjoyed taking part and helping at the events over the years and hope our community will continue the good work. One local resident, Peter, advises “To anyone reading this who lives in an area with no community group, don’t wait for someone else to set one up! To get started, form a Google Group as a very easy way to initially get people together. Holding an AGM, adopting a constitution, electing officers and opening a bank account can be done later. Even laborious leafletting could be circumvented by a few strategically placed small front garden notices, as done by Josephine Avenue Group.”
So, if you want to talk about how you can build or expand your tenants or resident’s association in your part of Tulse Hill Ward, let us know and we can have a chat!
Marcia (with thanks to ABRA residents Andrej, Kate, Peter and Lesley)
Community Garden Day 2020
ABRA always looks to include as many of our residents and local businesses as much possible in what we are doing so that everyone can have a chance to get involved in the things that affect them directly. Before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, we held Community Garden Day at the start of March to tend to the community garden between Arlingford and Brailsford Roads. Around 15 people (and numerous children!) got together to clean-up the garden – doing the weeding, repairing the benches and preparing the vegetable planters for this year’s crop. It’s a great way for neighbours to socialise and I know people will be keen to get out there when coronavirus restrictions are lifted properly. In the meantime, our other community garden days have had to be postponed because of the coronavirus lockdown – but people have found the chance, as part of their daily exercise time, to go in the garden individually or in family groups to do planting.
Looking out for the ABRA Community
ABRA residents look out for our older and more vulnerable neighbours, making sure that we keep an eye out for each other and check in on how residents in need might be helped. No matter is too small to help with or care about. Which was seen in the case when Lemon the cat went missing and a new form of neighbourhood watch was started to find the black and white cat!
Our postman John/Johnny has been posting letters to the residents on Arlingford and Brailsford Road for 8 years and is very much part of our community. He regularly keeps an eye out for residents who need a chat or a bit of support and even took time out to attend a funeral of one of our neighbours who sadly passed away. During the coronavirus pandemic Johnny has seen an increase in his deliveries from 2 bags to 8 bags – one time making 2000 deliveries in one day!
ABRA Street Party
In 2005 ABRA received funding from the ‘Neighbourhood Renewal Community Chest’ to have its first street party in the community garden. Local shops donated prizes for the raffle and resident bought food to share. Children’s entertainment, food, drink, a gospel choir, bric-a-brac/bookstall and music created our own carnival in this quiet corner of Brixton. One local resident, Kate recalls “It was great seeing everyone get together. I particularly remember the Caribbean/Guyanese and African food stall who did very well on the day…It will be great when Covid-19 is finally over and we can have a great big street party to celebrate and give each other a hug!”