A brand new community hub has opened up in a once-troubled neighbourhood.
Grand Union Housing Group has opened the new hub in the Bilberry Road estate in Clifton to help with community engagement and partnership work with Bedfordshire Police and Central Bedfordshire Council.
The hub is one of a number of initiatives brought in by the housing association recently.
It will serve as a space for agencies to meet with local residents, enabling open conversations, fostering community spirit and adding to a feeling of safety and reassurance.
This will include health initiatives to tackle ‘significant health inequalities’.
Phil Hardy, Executive Director of Operations at Grand Union, said: “One of our core aims is to build communities where people are proud of their homes, can put down roots and build better lives.
“This estate has had more than its fair share of troubles over the last few years, but working in partnership with the local community, the police and local authority, we’ve fought the persistent antisocial behaviour issues and found solutions to ensure the safety of our customers and the wider neighbourhood.
"We are delighted that customers now feel safer, but the job is not done yet as we want this community to thrive.
“Key to this is addressing some of the significant health inequalities and we are pleased that colleagues from Public Health will be hosting a number of health initiatives, working alongside colleagues from Grand Union and CBC and the hub will be the focus for these.”
Darren, who has lived on Bilberry Road for over 20 years, said: “We did have some undesirables on the estate for a while, but thanks to Grand Union, the police and the council, they’re gone now and we haven’t seen any trouble for over a year.
“It’s a really nice neighbourhood and a lovely place to live.”
Jane has been a resident of the estate for seven years.
She added: “We’d had drug dealing going on and armed police here at times but that’s all stopped. Our kids are enjoying playing outside more, now it’s safe, and there’s much more of a community feel.”