Linthorpe residents have been working together to refurbish the alleyways behind their homes, hoping to create a community space for activities.
Caxton Street resident Andy Falconer led the initiative after feeling his community was lacking an area where local people could meet and get to know their neighbours better. The alleyway between Caxton Street and Napier Street had previously been littered with rubbish and discarded electrical appliances, which residents were concerned about.
After beginning with the construction of planters from donated wooden pallets in July 2016, the alley behind Caxton Street has recently undergone a ’60-Minute Makeover’ from residents on March 25th.
The idea of alley renovation has spread through the town over recent years, with similar ideas now starting to be implemented in other alleyways across the Linthorpe area. In March that turned into a month of activities across the town.
“Spring into Action started off with people around two alleys doing something a bit more together”, Falconer says. “We’d go to Queens and Lambeth Road, and then they’d come to us. That added energy to each project but, again, it caught the imagination of people from other places, people who perhaps were alone and, maybe wanted to do something, but never felt like they had the time or energy to do it by themselves.”
“If you go to something else that’s working, and vibrant, then all sorts of possibilities emerge because you make friends with people who might be willing to give time. In Middlesbrough, there are several groups of alleys that seem to be doing a lot together. Some of them have got funding but most haven’t. Now we’re finding more ways of working together”
The alley renovation offers more to the community than just a tidier location and can create a space for both adults and children to interact with one another. Those at the helm of renovations have discussed the idea for a library to be installed in the alley on Caxton Street as a way for people to learn and share resources.
Falconer recalls that, “I said to my friend what about the idea of making a library? He went away and thought about it and came back with a design and we think if we put a really simple pallet library out there then it’s something that pretty much anyone could do in any community, it’s something that’s replicable.”
Josh is a journalism student from Middlesbrough and has been sharing his skills to help document the amazing community projects springing up around town.