Alumni Network Alumni Blog Olivia Clarke on Community Fallowfield. Three syllables, one word and you already have an imagine in your head. An image shown through the blurs of smoke from exhausts of cars speeding up and down the roads, an image lit up by blue flashing lights, an image created by the media. When it comes to an image you only see what’s in the frame, you never get to see the bigger picture. Fallowfield. Three syllables, one word and I have an image in my head. An image that is diverse, full of people coming together to celebrate everyone’s differences. An image that is lit up by the infectious smiles on people’s faces. An image that is what I open my eyes too everyday. An image I call home. What makes a great place to live? A place where you can feel safe walking the streets. A place where you can be who you want to be, when you want to be. A place that is supported by its council, represented by its political leaders. A place where change can happen and is accepted. Whilst it is the strong sense of community that I see in my image of Fallowfield, I am well aware of how some of the challenges we face can be seen through an external lens. The dimly lit streets full of litter, not a bin in sight. The pavements full of parked cars. The fear of being a victim of crime. Which may, on occasion, be true, but I believe that fear doesn’t stem from people but from an atmosphere, an atmosphere created by a lack of investment and by media stories intended to mock and belittle the “have nots”. Naturally, if something looks unwelcoming and sounds unwelcoming, as a human being you feel unwelcome. So whilst successive governments invest their time and money into making the best places better, communities like mine, where the majority of us live, continue to be ignored. It is very easy to blame the people in an area for why that area is so “bad” or “run-down”. But the majority of the people in these communities, mine specifically, continue to smile - yes we may not have much, but what we do have money can’t buy. No matter where I go in Fallowfield, I know I am safe because everyone looks out for each other, whether that may be putting your neighbours bins out or helping someone home with their shopping, we are a community. A community that is held together by the Fallowfield Triangle shopping area, where you will find a family run Bakery fuelling our day with fresh bacon butty’s or a cheese and onion sandwich with a hot cup of tea. Our community is built on these little things, it’s the small things that make a difference. There’s only one thing that I see is wrong with my community and it’s not the community itself but the things that are said about my community by political leaders campaigning for power or media companies competing for readers – and I don’t care one bit, because the things that they say are negative about my community, we embrace as positives.