Paradise Residents Association (PRA) has been going strong for several years now. It started life as a result of residents getting together to respond to some very anti-social behaviour in their neighbourhood. An open meeting was called and with the aid of our local Area Co-ordination office a structure was arranged around which we grew for the first year.
Our priority in those early days was to reduce anti-social behaviour. The area was very removed from the image the name Paradise portrays. Locals felt the area was being used as a dumping ground by some housing associations for their problem clients. Within 18 months with local people and agencies such as the police pulling together and letting it be known inappropriate behaviour would not be tolerated the area became a pleasanter place to live. At our first year’s AGM it was felt that PRA was a success and should be encouraged to grow. People that had lived in the area for many years and had not previously known their neighbours were now talking to each other. PRA decided the time had come to evolve.
In Paradise we had observed that generally people do not like attending meetings unless there is an issue they feel passionately about. We identified what problem areas still existed, such as, rubbish being dumped in alley ways, children with nothing to do but mess about on street corners, abandoned vehicles, the list goes on… Subgroups were elected to specialise in a certain problem areas, e.g. the environmental subgroup reports abandoned cars, amongst other things, to the appropriate City Council department. The system monitors that the cars are removed within 21 days and has proved very successful. Locals get involved with the groups as much or little as they have time for.
I feel Paradise works because we involve all age groups in our association at all levels. We are prepared to evolve to fit the circumstances rather than sticking with an outmoded system that alienates people. Local people have taken responsibility for improving their own environment instead of just complaining.