I have recently moved from the London borough of Lambeth which is in South West London and have head East, to the ‘roughest borough’ in London – Hackney. Now I can imagine everyone’s thoughts on the borough, that in the Lodnon riots, shook the nation. Footage of children as young as 12 running around setting fire to cars, smashing shop windows and also attacking students while they await on the platform at Hackney Central... I am the first one to be influenced by the media and what crime statistics are in an area- it is important to me.
While looking for houses in the Hackney borough it did appear to me that despite it being one of the most desirable places to live in London – it is in fact the most poverty strike. One would think that with the amount of attention one borough gets, the interesting markets and art culture that the borough thrives on, wouldn’t be the place where the most crime takers place in the city.
Moving from a suburban area of London where there is a coming at the end of the road and more buggies and dogs walking around that East Dulwich, I was a bit dubious moving to a place where there are more gangs and gun crime than the national average.
‘Post code war’ is bellowed from Hackney Gazette billboards, and sirens go off every 5 minutes but for a place that has a bad rep, i am growing to love it. Nearby Hommerton is a little scary – more high rises than I have seen, but that’s the difference between the north and south of the river. There is always going to be a divide and it is not necessarily to do with money or unemployment, but there is a shift in the atmosphere but i can’t put my finger on it.
How i can explain it – living south of the river in Peckham and Streatham for the last 2 years, I can understand that ‘getting by’ is more evident in deprived boroughs – places that have not been supported well by council’s or have high unemployment rate. Those who know from national statistics and the rates of crime – unemployment plays a part in this and because there are hundreds of council owned buildings- could this be another cause? Yes, SW London has council areas, and nhot everyone who lives in high rises supports crime but a borough that was ‘made for the working class’ still has that reputation of being just a working class area.
So how did an area become so trendy and in demand with up and coming artists and aspiring graduates? It can’t be the house prices – they are the most expensive in the city. Now the olympics is coming to London, the boroughs have had a revamp. Using celebrities to ‘sell’ and ‘support’ local markets, areas and deprived places such as Tower Hamlets and Cambridge Heath, it is a way of ‘loving your area’ and building community, which I think these places have lacked over the last few decades.
Brixton has always had a bad reputation – Brixton Village is somewhere which has borough communities and local business’s together and I have never felt uncomfortable walking around at night there.
I do feel a little apprehensive walking around Hackney at night- but not because I am not street wise- I do know where to avoid and I am cautious as any young woman would be when walking home at night, but there does seem to be something in the air around the street’s which does make me feel slightly cold.
Hackney is improving ‘I live Hackney Campaign’ is a great way of involving local communities asn well as those who don’t always go to the area. ‘Fuck Yeah Hackney’ is a great blog where people can share ideas, chat and discuss. There are lot of things that are improving and I would like to see Hackney become more of a friendly place where I can tell people, come here! Residing at a house party in Wandsworth I was shocked to see so many residents and lovers of the Clapham and Balham postcode to turn stuff when i said i was moving to Hackney ‘Why would you want to move their?..’ I explained i fancies a change and it was closer to the city, which is always a bonus...I felt myself justifying why I was moving their,. At the time I couldn’t give a valid answer- it was more expensive, higher crime rate and didn’t offer much else. Now I have been there a short time, I already enjoy the creative side to a borough that is full of designers, fashion and great food.
Do any of you live in Hackney – What are your views on the area – What do you love about it?