Chelmsley Wood is a large Council Estate that was rapidly built in the 1970s on greenbelt land in the north of Sollihull, near Birmingham. The estate has dealt with many social issues and crime resulting in the area receiving negative media attention.
According to the residents, the media coverage and rumours about Chelmsley Wood are often very inaccurate and place an undeserved negative stigma over the area.
Therefore, we decided to create a tourist guide in words of the people that live on the Estate. Their opinions of the area, personal memories and daily routines would offer a real and first-hand account of Chelmsley Wood.
The first step in this was recording the residents and their options in a manner which allowed them to be comfortable and give us their stories. During an initial visit to the site, we approached people in a shopping centre. Although this approach was a good starting point we realised the location of the interviews was very important. Stopping people in a busy shopping centre was did not provide us with the level of depth and detail we were looking for in the stories. Following this, we arranged a day at 3 threes community centre in Chelmsley Wood. We had planned to set up a one day event where people would come and take part in the project. Prior to the event we made posters and distributed them amongst the community.
We chose the slogan ” Chelmsley Wood is great” as a conversation starter. This worked well as it was a positive statement that celebrated the community. The day was also a great success, we heard from many different members of the community who felt comfortable to share their stories and were excited to take part in the project. The result was a variety of personalities and personal stories which we will be using in our final publication.