Blackfield Creatives are working with the community to deliver a programme of projects to address some of the anti-social behaviour taking place within Wisbech town centre and the surrounding areas. Using creative practices, we intend to enhance the appearance of the area as we believe that this will help to alleviate some of the community’s concerns about the town.
In the 2022 Safer Wisbech Survey, several different areas within the town centre were identified by the community as where they felt most unsafe. We believe that this sense of unease is exacerbated by the number of public spaces and properties which have been left to become an eyesore. The building exteriors are deteriorating and both locals and visitors feel that many parts of the town are unkempt and unsafe, even though it is a conservation area with a fascinating heritage. This is having a negative impact on the morale of the community, which is becoming more divided, and new businesses are deterred from investing in the area, thus creating further problems such as the lack of employment prospects.
We have been working with the Wisbech Community Safety Partnership, Fenland District Council’s (FDC) Conservation Officer and Economic Growth and Assets team, together with representatives from local community groups, to consider how we can improve these areas. One example identified is the vacant department store in the market place which was formerly occupied by Beales. Currently the windows to the rear of the building are covered with wooden panels as a security measure, but these have been vandalised and obscenities drawn on them which are offensive to both people passing by and those who live in the properties that overlook this building. There is also a footpath to the side of the building which is a main thoroughfare into the market place, and we believe that this graffiti adds to the poor impressions that some have about the town.
We will be working with a number of groups and individuals on the ‘Creating a Safer Space’ programme, which we anticipate will involve a series of projects running from 2022-2024. These community representatives will include students from local schools, clients supported by the Ferry Project charity, Wisbech Street Pride volunteers, specialist support groups, and residents from the Clarion homes located in and around the town centre. Working with the Street Scene team and Senior Community Support Officer for FDC, the Cambridgeshire County Council Youth in Communities Team and the Fenland Police Community Engagement team, we also plan to engage with the young people who gather in the town centre, to get them involved and to deter them from committing anti-social behaviour.
These artworks will be designed by the groups, working with a professional artist, in a series of workshop sessions and will focus on creating pieces which will reflect and celebrate the multi-cultural community. We have worked with these groups before in Wisbech, on programmes such as the Vertical Garden in the Park, the 24 High Street Muraland the ‘You Are Important’ project, which saw the creation of a contemporary art exhibition within the town centre. The charity, school staff and Clarion Housing Community Neighbourhood team have expressed an interest in taking part in new activities which will provide positive experiences for their students and clients, and we believe this project can deliver this.