If you had the power, how would you improve your local area, be it village, town or city? Nobody knows a community’s strengths and weaknesses better than the people who live in it.
That’s why it has been wonderful to see the people of Elgin have their say on social media this week about how Moray Council should spend the £20 million pledged by the UK Government for boosting the town.
Suggestions generally seem to be focused on improvements to the High Street and wider town centre, with specifics including encouraging both new residents and businesses to the area, making it more accessible for everybody, and dealing with problematic gulls.
In the Granite City, after canvassing for the opinions of Aberdonians, the Our Union Street campaign took an important step further forward.
On Tuesday, the organisation released a white paper, proposing a plan for how the local community can, together, “regenerate, repopulate and reinvigorate” Union Street and its surroundings.
After a very difficult few years, and still in the trying grip of pandemic recovery and a cost-of-living crisis, it is easy to understand why some in Scotland may feel disillusioned with politics, and powerless to change or improve very much at all in their daily lives. However, even small changes for the better represent progress.
Plainly, people living across the north and north-east feel passionately that their hometowns could benefit from better investment and care, and they have good ideas about where to start. But Our Union Street’s call for help highlights one crucial fact: if we want results, we must take action; not the few, but the many.
From taking part in public consultations, like the one currently open about the future of Aberdeen’s libraries, to organising or joining in with a litter pick, even small gestures can have a big impact.
Working together is good for well-being
Of course, members of the public can’t be responsible for fixing transport woes or agreeing business rates. Governments must play their part, on both a local and national scale. Still, joining in with community-led efforts to spruce up shared spaces or provide helpful services to others will likely be as beneficial to individuals as it will be to the wider neighbourhood.
All of us are living through difficult times and feelings of isolation are rife. Working together as part of a group with a shared, positive goal is a fantastic way to ward off loneliness and feel a sense of pride and achievement, while also helping other people.
So, air your views and share your ideas with gusto – but don’t forget to pitch in when you can.
The Voice of the North is The Press & Journal’s editorial stance on what we think are the most important issues of the week