There are so many negative connotations attached to council flats; drugs, crime and gangs. Yes unfortunately all this is true. Having lived in a council estate in Hackney East London for ten years I was exposed to so much at such a young age. Notorious gang members sitting on the staircase leading to my house was the norm, finding needles when playing in the community park normal, hearing about a shooting, murder or stabbing again normal.
My childhood consisted of seeing the older guys playing football on the block, to putting flowers where they were unfortunately killed in a gang related incident. Having friends come over to watch TV to realise two years later they had not been in contact because they had been in prison, both male and female.
Most parent’s fear raising their child in an estate, as they fear their son/daughter might not make it to adult hood, but when you are not on the best of income or no income at all you do not have a choice.
However, apart from all the ‘bad’ things that happen daily on these council estates there is a positive side.
Living in an estate you are a part of a community. When you are feeling low you could always turn to your neighbour for help, everybody helped each other. When a new family moved in it was the gossip of the block, but within a short period of time the family is welcomed and accepted and they too feel a part of this extended family. Community BBQs in the summer and water fights were some of the fun activities organised by ourselves and the council.
Also, you feel like you are more street wise compared to those who lived in the posh houses, literally two seconds from the tower blocks. Being street wise is a life saver when treading on ‘foreigners ground’ to avoid any form of conflict.
Furthermore, most kids who grew up living on council states were not just ‘hoody gang members’ underneath they/ we all had dreams, we all wanted to better our lives. Living on a council estate pushed us to want to achieve more as we were tired and fed up of living in cramped housing conditions.
A friend of mine was associated with gangs and violence but is now studying at Cambridge University. Cancel flats holds dreamers who just need that push to fulfil their potential.
Although I now live in a mid-Terrance house in Kent, I look back at my childhood and do feel like I was buried in a nightmare world, but at the same time, I have learned valuable skills, which I know I would not possess if I had not lived in a council flat.