Bolton Council has brought together residents of Harper Green and students of ESSA Academy as part of a pioneering new group to foster good community relations.
When the academy was first opened, local residents had some concerns around building work, traffic and student behaviour, while students were concerned that the local community did not understand that the move to an academy meant more than just a change of name.
As a result the council’s area forum agreed to set up a community liaison group to bring residents and students face-to-face to discuss concerns and to bring them closer together.
The group now holds regular meetings which focus on a specific issue, such as litter and the environment, with both residents and students working together to develop solutions. Residents have also attended assemblies and class debates.
Councillor Linda Thomas, Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Corporate Resources said: “This group is a brilliant way for residents and students to discuss any areas which concern them both and to work together to develop solutions. I hope that the group continues to grow and fosters good community relations between the school and local community.”
Showk Badat, Principal of ESSA Academy commented: “I am deeply encouraged that our young people and the community have been given this unique opportunity to dispel myths and to support real concerns. I am extremely grateful to members of the community and Bolton Council for making this happen.”
Preva Crossley of Roseneath Residents’ Association, said: “We have been really impressed with the way the council and the academy have come together to work with us. It is important that residents get the chance to discuss their views and feelings, and being able to talk directly with students and academy staff is helping us to understand and appreciate where they are coming from and enabling us to move forward.”