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Enough is Enough: Community comes together following local shootings

"We will not be divided," says community group, after rise in criminal activity in Nether Edge during lockdown.

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Common Ground Community Centre sits just off Abbeydale Road in Nether Edge and has undergone an amazing revival over the last few years.

Our garden space, hall and meeting rooms have become well used by local groups, families and by Family Voice, who run classes for women with English as a second language. The National Lottery, the church and Council are all supporting refurbishment of the building and green space. Ours is a wonderful success story of community effort and passion.

However, once lockdown hit and a police camera was removed, the outdoor space started to become used by drug dealers and intimidating groups of men. Despite efforts to prevent the situation worsening, things came to crisis point last Friday when there were four shooting incidents in the area. In one of these incidents shots were fired on Machon Bank and Common Ground. Local residents were shocked and scared for themselves and their children. "I feel angry that these people have taken away my security and freedom," one said.

More than 20 local residents spoke to Common Ground and Family Voice directly about ways of resolving these long-running issues. We talked about the increased need for anonymous reporting of anti-social behaviour (ASB), strained police resources, how the community needs to get together to say 'enough is enough'.

The police camera on Machon Bank was already planned to be returned and went back up on Monday. On Tuesday, 18 people from local organisations attended the Abbeydale Stakeholders meeting with Inspector Fitzgibbons from the South West Neighbourhood Team and heard how detectives and proactive teams were working hard on collating intelligence and, following a number of arrests, that more firearms and drugs had been seized over the weekend.

They have also increased police presence in all the areas affected. Sharrow Community Forum and the Fire Service will be working together to increase reporting of ASB. Family Voice are producing a multilingual social media flyer to help people know what they can do to help the situation. Common Ground is planning to extend CCTV coverage.

Common Ground's small urban green space looks pretty and calm in today's low evening sun. We are still a little fragile but with lockdown a little loosened, increased police presence and the weather due to improve, we are feeling hopeful that the garden will be safe and used again by families and dog walkers over the coming days and weeks.

That is not to say that moving the drugs issue to another place is the answer. People across this community also work hard on the wider and long-term issues of drug dealing - with schools (increasing awareness of how to engage young people from different backgrounds), with families (reducing isolation and increasing confidence and knowledge), and with young people (MumsUnited running anti knife crime courses). There will of course be more discussion and positive action to come.

Nether Edge, Abbeydale and Sharrow are beautiful, diverse and vibrant areas of the city with a strong sense of community. These events affect everyone across our community. We will not be divided. We will come together and work hard to make sure we have a safe, welcoming and wonderful neighbourhood for everybody.

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