Estate walkabout spotlight

Two of our neighbourhood co-ordinators in Middlesbrough and Stockton tell us about the estate walkabouts in their areas.

Tracey Hayes manages the town area of Middlesbrough and has been organising walkabouts on the patch since June 2018. Tracey’s patch is split into three areas so she has plenty of ground to cover.

Tracey said: “There’s always loads to do on a walkabout. I run one every 12 weeks which basically involves visiting the estates I manage, meeting up with residents and local councillors, and spending time walking around the area to spot any issues that we need to tackle.

“That could include anything from rubbish in a garden, to a problem with a communal greenspace or repairs needed on one of our homes – pretty much anything can pop up.

“On one walkabout, we actually rescued a lady who was locked in her house. Her partner had picked up a bag with her phone and keys in and she couldn’t get out or contact him. So I used my tablet PC to get his phone number from our system, rang him and he came straight home.”

“I’m very lucky that the councillors for my area are very involved and at least one of them attends every walkabout. There’s a core group of residents in each area that also attend in all weathers, which proves that people do like to get involved.

“I personally think the walkabouts are really useful. They give me the chance to catch up with the councillors and discuss what’s going on in the area in a more relaxed way. The customers who come along also enjoy them as they feel more involved in the area, whereas people who don’t attend, often see us out and about and just stop for a quick chat.”

Building relationships in Stockton

On the Hardwick estate in Stockton, Nikki Walton runs walkabouts every three months and has carried out around six since the neighbourhood co-ordinator role was first established.

Nikki said: “On every walkabout, we have councillors coming along and sometimes the local police community support officers attend too. I also advertise the walkabouts on my Thirteen Twitter account, and the Facebook page to encourage residents to get involved as well.

“I cover Hardwick with three other co-ordinators so we each run walkabouts on own patch. The usual things that crop-up time and again are garage sites that need to be secured, fly tipping and, in the summer months, overgrown trees and keeping gardens tidy.

“Through the walkabouts I think we have built up really good relationships with the local councillors by inviting them along. As well as this, customers get a tidier, more attractive place to live, and having better estates means we can also attract new residents into the area.

“We are out and about on the estates most days now, so we do pick up things up as we go along, but the walkabouts have helped to build relationships that ultimately makes things better for our customers.”