Urban Spirituality from East Manchester

If you have ever visited Mersey Street, you may be able to recongnise the church in the background of this photograph (click on the picture for a larger image). As you can see in the foreground, we now have a glossy news sales and marketing suite on our doorstep.

All around us, we see signs of change as the regeneration of our area begins to gather pace. The school which used to back onto Mersey Street has long since been demolished and the first houses to be built on the site are now taking shape in the rather idyllically named "Fairfields" estate.

You might, of course, wonder why the first thing to be completed is a Sales and Marketing Suite if the homes being built are - as we have been promised all along - for the existing residents of the estate to move into as their own homes are demolished. Sadly, we've long since given up asking that sort of question. There are only a handful of the existing community left and even they have largely given up. If they had the opportunity to move out today, they would take it. The process has taken far too long.

One of our community, for example, is on the so-called "priority register." She has a grown-up son with mental health issues, for whom she cares. Originally, she was told that her house would be demolished over two years ago and that her new flat would be ready. Quite naturally, therefore, when her heating failed, she decided that she could not afford to have it replaced at a cost of several thousand pounds. Last winter almost killed her, and she has now been told that the apartment will not be ready until next summer. She cannot take any more and is now desperately looking around for sheltered accommodation for both her and her son.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the New Deal for Communities - which Tony Blair announced in autumn 1998 - Tim has put together a slide show of images from the Toxteth Street estate which you can view by clicking here.