A year into a campaign to “Keep Victory Safe”, the two women charged with making it happen say positive changes are happening.
Their work has led to several initiatives in Victory, the latest being a CCTV camera which was installed last week. The camera was in response to results of a survey which showed that people felt unsafe at Victory Square and wanted it to be cleaned up.
Gayle Petch and Marcia Higgs are both on fixed term contracts with the Victory Community Centre. Marcia finishes next month, while Gayle’s contract ends in December. They say their roles were created after the community centre spotted a need.
“A year ago there was a lot of intimidating behaviour at the square. People told us they felt unsafe letting their kids use the playground and there were young people here who would approach people asking for cigarettes or money,” says Gayle.
The pair also put many of the problems down to the Victory Liquor Centre that is currently closed but has reapplied for its off-licence. Gayle says fighting to keep the store shut is now a focus. “The difference has been huge since the liquor shop closed. There are no broken bottles in the park, there aren’t people sitting here drinking. It’s cleaned up the square a lot,” says Marcia.
Kindra Douglas, of the Victory Community Centre, was the person who first identified a need for an initiative to make Victory a safer place. She’s thrilled with the results.
“I guess over the past two or three years we’ve noticed a slight increase in what we’d say was unsafe behaviour. There were a few little fires around the campus, there were burglaries at the schools and then we had the terrible attack at the community gardens,” she says.
“I guess that good reputation that we had started to develop was being eroded.”
Marica says the project has been a success. “More people are using the park, it’s a nice atmosphere, it’s just so different. You can’t always see the work you’ve done, you can’t always put it in a report or on paper, you just know and it just evolves over time.”