The Resident Zone

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This month we speak to Maria Gulston, a long-term resident in the local community about her experiences in the area and her hopes for the future.

Having lived in Wornington Green for 20 years, Maria Gulston is one of the estate’s proudest supporters. Despite her self-confessed love for the estate and the community within it, even she acknowledges that the path towards regeneration hasn’t always been plain sailing. As one of the first residents to be relocated from Munro Mews, Maria can now see the signs of progress.

“The delays to the project inevitably upset people”, she says, “but now that people have started moving and the fencing has gone up, we can all start to believe in it again and to get excited about the future.”

In conversation, Maria regularly refers to “a sense of pride” and this is what she believes to be integral to successful housing projects. During extensive travels throughout the USA in her youth, Maria saw many things that made her proud to be a Londoner. Commenting on her experience, she says “when you see the quick fix housing solutions in major American cities, you begin to appreciate the large-scale regeneration taking place right across London.”

Of her hopes for the future and her future home in the new development, Maria wants to “live in 21st century housing that shows our borough is leading the way in innovation. I want our borough to have a different signature – one which we can be proud of.” The fundamentals of successful regeneration boil down to a sense of pride, according to Maria. “The better your housing is, the prouder you are. Even though you might not have much money it makes you think you have a nice home, which gives you a sense of pride – and no-one can take that away from you.”

Having recently completed a Chartered Institute of Housing course run by Catalyst, Maria is a firm believer that education and training are vital tools in helping children and young adults achieve their potential. The 12-week intensive course proved to be an eye-opener for her and has changed the way she looks at things. Summing up her experience, Maria adds: “Initially I was nervous about the thought of going back into education, but it quickly made me realise that I had been suppressing so many skills and qualities. This is a really good course and has made me hungry for more opportunities and to push myself further.”

Next on Maria’s to-do list is to learn how to drive. Having seen a job advertised that requires a housing qualification and a driving licence, Maria is keen to add driving to her skill-set with the rationale that “once upon a time, there were two things preventing me from applying for that job. Now there is only one, so I aim to do something about that”. The streets of West London may never be the same again!

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