Slapham is a town of 20,000 people. It lies within commuting distance of a major city and sits on a main railway connection. Traditionally the town's economy has relied on light engineering and the supply of parts to major manufacturers in the city, but this has declined and the town is mainly a commuter settlement. The town is composed of a tight and in some places historic inner core sandwiched between the River Slap and a main railway line and suburban surroundings. Marshall Street is the main retail area although the shops there are under pressure from out of town centres. The central area is roughly divided into the 4 districts shown overleaf, each of which has a resident population of around 4,000.
Tarley is an area of run down traditional housing with narrow streets grouped around a small green park on Solomon Street. It has become a focus for the town's Somali population. It has a high proportion of rented accommodation in multiple occupation and few public facilities.
Blaybeck lies along the river and the areas close to the water are subject to occasional ﬂooding. It has a poor reputation in the town and much of the drug trade is centred there. Houses are difﬁcult to sell. The area borders on Mavis Park, an green area of low quality football pitches which includes a sports and community centre run by the Council.
Golsen is a mixed area of residential and largely derelict industrial buildings. It has recently been subject to a degree of gentriﬁcation especially around Fair Square. This process has driven up house prices in the area and led to the conversion of some industrial premises to up market housing.
Stobben is an area of solid Victorian housing interspersed with small shops and community facilities. The population is ageing and the general health statistics for the area are poor.
The community based organisations listed below are trying to improve aspects of Slapham life. Some operate Slapham wide, while others are more narrowly focussed in one of the 4 districts. The number given after the title refers to the organisation's location on the map.
Marshall Street Community Museum - 2
This local museum is housed in a historic building in Marshall Street, not far from Courtney Square. It houses a collection of mainly craft and early industrial exhibits from the town's history and is run by a longstanding museum trust and staffed by increasingly aged volunteers. The building is in great need of renovation and visitor numbers are dropping.
Young Readers - 2
This charitable group was formed to instill a love of books and improve the reading ability of local children and holds reading sessions run by volunteers. The group operates in community spaces all over the town including primary schools after school hours. the group occupies a small ofﬁce in the same building as the Community Museum. There is a small subscription to fund materials and occasional visits by authors. The numbers of children attending has been falling in recent years and the group reports a decrease in literacy.
Blaybeck Women's Refuge - 6
Operating from premises fronting the river, the refuge has a long history of supporting women suffering domestic abuse, and providing secure temporary accommodation. Staffed by volunteers but working closely with the police, social work and health agencies the refuge provides a valuable local service. The building is however becoming more difﬁcult to maintain and has some structural problems associated with its location on the river frontage. The accommodation has become substandard.
Blaybeck Community Association - 7
The association was formed over 50 years ago and holds a special place in the lives of Slapham people many of whom have beneﬁtted from the activities it runs,particularly those for young people. It has the freehold for a large but run down Georgian building on Mavis Park from where it runs it's activities. These include dance groups, a youth drama club, child care, indoor bowls, preschool, tea dances and a keep ﬁt programme for older people. Space is hired for dog training, Tai Chi and an ofﬁce for the Community Team. Stafﬁng levels are low - a full time manager, 2 part time staff and volunteers.
Mavis Park Community Sports Club - C2
Mavis Park is an an area of low quality sports pitches (football etc) surrounding a rather rundown sports and community centre owned and operated by the Council. The Club has been formed by the community to resist the closure of the Centre which runs at a considerable loss.
Space Race - 1
This group is concerned to ﬁnd a productive social use for empty properties and land. It considers these to disﬁgure the town and to sap local moral. Initially the Council had little interest, but this is changing as the the Council seeks to get rid of property. The group acts as a catalyst to encourage local groups to take up unused assets. It has a small ofﬁce in Stobben.
Slapham Young People's Centre - 3
Situated in Courtney Square, this longstanding group of local volunteers, and a paid youth organiser, runs after school sessions and a drop in cafe. Occasionally they run trips to outdoor centres in Wales and Scotland. Funding is mainly Council grants and speciﬁc project funding. Recently trouble over drug use at the cafe has soured relations with the police. The centre wishes to expand its work through the recruitment of youth and arts workers together with training for volunteers.
The Peacock Centre Users Group - C1
Local people volunteered to renovate the single story prefab building that houses a weekly youth club and other activities and is leased by the Council. The core group is currently an informal partnership of local people and former youth services workers. Their voluntary contribution is taken into account when calculating rent and so they have a cheap management lease. Other users run services (including a CV club and training sessions) during the day, but there is no agreed fee structure. The Users Group also offer outreach across the estate and wider area, involving a local lay preacher and former outreach workers in additional to local parents.
Tarley Somali Association - 8
The Association was formed 5 years ago to provide support for the Somali community in Slapham which is mainly based in Tarley. Legal, translation, ﬁnancial and other advice is provided by volunteers and Council staff in temporary ofﬁces. There are plans to move into a larger Council owned building in Patrick Street (C3) but this will require ﬁnding other groups or services to share the space. The Council will also be keen to transfer responsibility for the building to a properly constituted body that is larger than the Somali Association.
The Brewhouse - 4
The Brewhouse is currently owned by Slapham Council, but in conjunction with Space Race and other stakeholders, a new organisation, the Brewhouse Trust, is being formed. This organisation will seek to expand the uses of the current building and press ahead with a new project to expand the facility and incorporate new activities. There are numerous opportunities for local people to get involved.
ChairPersons Cooperative - 5
This ﬁve-year-old initiative began as a six-week training course for NEET young people aged 16-24 offering skills in furniture renovation and woodwork, funded through the local authority. It is now a social enterprise training young people in design and renovation skills, and providing business support. They remove, ‘repurpose’ and renovate old furniture in the local area, and run a shop where this furniture is re-sold. While the young people are able to take some funds from the project, most funds are allocated to further training and covering overheads. The group rents both training and retail space on a long-term basis from local commercial agents.
The list below shows public bodies that operate in Slapham. These support community bodies and provide services for residents.
Slapham Borough Council covers Slapham and the surrounding rural area. It's headquarters is in Slapham in new ofﬁces on the outskirts of the town. The Council is under pressure to rid itself of its building stock, much of which is a burden in terms of upkeep and location. It has also been asked to cut non-statuary services including support for local groups. At the same time it is keen to show that it is serving local people.
Slapshire County Council covers both urban and rural areas including Slapham and its surrounding villages.
There are 4 housing associations in Slapham. Three of these are area based and operate in Blaybeck, Tarley and Stobben. A special needs association creates and manages special needs housing across the town.
The NHS is gearing up to the changes whereby local GPs will control health budgets. The effect of these changes on the support that local groups get from health organisations is not known.
The range of local business spans town centre retail to light industrial use in xx. The recession has not been good to Slapham and there have been a number of closures resulting in job losses especially affecting young people.
There is a major Police Station in xx street and the local police are recognisd as having fairly good relationships with the various communities. The Fire Service operates out of a Fre Station in xx and is keen to support local community groups, particularly young people.
There are three main religious groups in Slapham. The Tarley area has a sizeable Somali community, most of whom are Muslim and attend a small Mosque in a converted community hall in Patrick Street. The Catholic community attend a church in Courtney Square. The Church of England has two churches one in Marshall Street and the other in Mavis Square. They also run a number of clubs for young people and pensioners.
There are 4 primary schools in central Slapham, one in each sub area. A large secondary school sits just to the north of the central area.