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Community Transformation in Castle Vale

In 2004 we moved to the Castle Vale estate in Erdington. A population of 11,000 live in about 4,000 homes. The estate was built in the 1960s to re-house families from the slum clearance programme. During the 1970s and 1980s it deteriorated and became notorious for crime and drug addition. The housing stock deteriorated, especially the 42 high rise apartment blocks. Crime was among the highest rates in the city.

Can Christians make a difference in this situation? There were relatively few Christians on the estate, and this is still true. However, the few who were here began to pray for the estate. They prayed regularly for many years.

In 1994 the government set up the Housing Action Trust. Over 12 years all the high rise blocks were replaced by new houses and most of the other homes were refurbished, costing £270 million. Numerous resident action groups were set up, in which the Christians played an active role. All the 7 pubs closed one by one, mainly for dealing drugs. The crime rate is now probably the lowest in Birmingham.

Since coming to live here, I have been asked to join various organisations on the estate. We felt it right to accept some of the requests, such as being a Board member of the housing association, the Community Regeneration Service, the ‘2005 Group’ for community leaders, Chair of the Tenants and Residents Alliance and various other initiatives to improve the community.

Having spent many years in Christian work where we didn’t interact much with non-Christians, we now find ample opportunities to witness our faith in Christ, one to one, in meetings and the local newspaper. We find that people are open and interested to hear what makes us tick.

John Miles johnbarrymiles@gmail.com  748 6363