It has been a strange day – too much rushing about – I am still managing to run but today it was hard, no doubt for the simple reason I am tired and my head is full – I was thinking about what is it that compels a person to be drawn to express themselves through song and for others what is it that makes it feel like the scariest or most horrible or simply boring thing in the world (I am not convinced by the last, suspecting it may cover up the first two) – what was it that I was picking up in the Roehampton residents I bumped into and talked to that made me decide by appearance alone (regardless of race, gender or age) whether I thought they may like to sing?!

I am beginning to think about songs and wait to hear what those who gather want to sing – I will just make sure I have a lot ‘ready to go’ and an open mind and ear

I had fun beginning to arrange “Mammamia” tonight although about as up to speed with garageband as I am with blogging! Found such a beautiful song too on you tube called “Bright Morning Stars” by the Wailin’ Jennys, not in the style or sentiment I was thinking about immediately for ALTON SINGS, as I am thinking more uptempo and energetic, but this song is one to share with those of you who like beautiful singing and songs

My thanks in advance to Rev McKinney for the next piece of info which makes for interesting reading about Roehampton taken from a document about the area written by the parish of Holy Trinity church in 2011 – really interesting reading and shows how challenging, interesting & exciting and tough trying to gather a community in song may be in such a short time ………….

Roehampton was originally an ordinary Surrey village until the Sixteenth Century when Henry VIII cleared the farmsteads to the west of the village, across from Beverly Brook, and evicted their tenants. This was to make way for the enclosure which became Richmond Park. From then until the post Second World War era, Roehampton was an immensely wealthy and very exclusive outer London retreat for the political elite of the country. Four Prime Ministers and one future King made their homes here.

After the Second World War, the Roehampton council estates were put up in the grounds of the great mansions to house those made homeless or in temporary accommodation as a result of enemy bombing or slum clearance. The estates account for about 10,000 people.

The rest of the parish is very similar to neighbouring parishes consisting pre-dominantly of middle class semi-detached or detached houses and flat conversions. There is a great deal of building taking place at the moment with developments at the old Queen Mary’s Hospital site, the old nurses home at Arton Wilson House, and a number of other brown field sites for smaller-scale housing. These make up another 6,000 of the population.

In terms of population there is the university to consider as well. About 3,000 students live on campus, with another 6,000 living around the local area. About half of these live in Roehampton in the old council accommodation, but refitted by private landlords who now pack in six to eight individuals in flats that were designed for three to five people. Many migrant labourers live in this accommodation also. Thus it is very difficult to give a precise figure for our population, but around 20,000 would not be far off the mark.

The post war estates were a very successful piece of social engineering. Community spirit flourished: Scouts, Guides, the Boys Brigade, all had long waiting lists. Amateur dramatics and all sorts of associations thrived. However, a decline began to emerge in the early 1990s which has accelerated since. Tenants’ right to buy, and the obligation of local authorities to house the homeless, meant that there was a significant shift in the way in which housing was allocated. The flats bought by their tenants were eventually sold off to the private landlords mentioned above. Those flats still under local Authority control were allocated on the ‘points system’. The families with most points tended to be lone parent, two or more children, unemployed and usually a health problem with one or more members of the family. Over time this has had a devastating effect on the estates. We now have a highly atomised community with no role models, high unemployment and low expectations. The other group which scores high points are the families of asylum seekers. We now have a large Somali community and Sudanese community.

Roehampton has the highest child deprivation, unemployment and ill health indices in Wandsworth Borough, and the lowest economic activity index. The only mass employer is ASDA, although Queen Mary’s Hospital does employ a few locals in service roles.

• Total and ethnic breakdown
White British 70%, African 25%, Others 5%
• Approximate age break-down
Over 60yrs: 50%, 40yrs – 60yrs: 30%, 0-40yrs: 20%

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