Sylvia describes what life has to offer in Mile Cross today and finds it a good place to live.
I moved to Mile Cross in 1996 and I quite liked it from the beginning. Obviously it’s a bit strange when you go anywhere new. I live in a terraced house. There’s a lot of terraced houses in Mile Cross and I was brought up in a terraced house, so I do like them.
When I first moved here a lot of people said ‘Ooh, Mile Cross! There’s a lot of trouble there. There’s a lot of druggies’. It was a bit noisy sometimes. In my road there was a pub, two or three doors down, which has now been turned into flats. Some used to moan about the noise when people came out of the pub but, being slightly deaf and having double glazing, that didn’t used to bother me. It’s a shame that Mile Cross has got that sort of name because it is a really nice area. We’ve got Wensum Park and Waterloo Park which are both lovely, we’re very lucky. Then, on the Aylsham Road, further up towards the Co-op, there’s a small area of garden and not far away there’s Heigham Park, down on the Drayton Road.
I’ve noticed just recently that a lot of commuters, people that work in the city, like having these houses because they can walk in from here. I like it because I don’t drive. If the weather’s nice I can walk into the city quite easily. So it’s close to everything from my point of view. I’m retired and have time to do things I want, I’ve got access to the things that I want in the city, because Norwich is a lovely city.
Even in Mile Cross there’s lots of different things. There’s the Phoenix Centre, the Norman Centre, the Health Shop, all these things. I do feel that the residents of Mile Cross don’t take enough advantage of all the things that are ongoing. I do art classes. It’s free and it’s funded by Real Health Action, the Health Shop. They do a Tuesday one, in the daytime, and an evening one on a Friday. It’s really good. It’s a very informal art class and the majority of people come if they’re depressed, they need more self-confidence, this sort of thing. I started going when I was bereaved and found it a great help because they’re lovely.
Real Health Action also do sexual advice, contraception and all that sort of thing for the youngsters. They’ve got a breast-feeding club and various support groups meet there. They have a gentleman that works in there who does massage and is very inexpensive, about a year ago it was £10. I mean, how cheap is that these days? They have a nutritionist that you can contact. They have a counsellor there, I don’t know how many days a week, and that’s free. I feel the doctors in the area could send more people because the more it’s used the more funding these projects will get, otherwise they’ll fold. The PCT gives money so I think they could take more advantage of these things.
The Norman Centre has got the gym and various things going on, IT classes, that sort of thing. The Phoenix Centre tend to do more things for the school age children, but they have one or two things like yoga and that type of thing.
At St. Catherine’s church on a Wednesday they have a drop-in coffee and chat thing and the other church, St. Luke’s, the vicar there, oh, I can’t speak highly enough of him, he’s so modern, so accepting of everybody’s beliefs. He does developing consciousness courses and various things. It’s very very interesting.
There’s quite a nice selection of shops. You’ve got the Co-op and there’s a post office, various other shops, ooh, two charity shops on Aylsham Road, which I love going into. Yeh, you get bargains there! So I think Mile Cross has got a lot going for it you know. One’s close to the city, you’ve got lots of green spaces, there’s help there if you want it. You’ve got doctors, dentists in the area.
I know people moan about places but I can’t see the problem. It’s more difficult for people on low incomes. It’s a very underprivileged area, but I think if all the residents of Mile Cross, or a lot more of them, got together and used these facilities, and got a more positive attitude, and helped each other, and got a pride in the area, you need not be frightened to say ‘I live at Mile Cross’ because you think people look down on you. Be determined to make it an area where people think ‘Ooh, they live in Mile Cross. That’s a really friendly, busy, interesting place’. I think it could happen. You mustn’t be negative. You’ve got to be positive. Other areas of the country have done it and we CAN do it.
There have been quite a lot of projects – I think they had a project tidying up that garden on Aylsham Road, things like that which are good. I’ve talked to my own son saying ‘Why don’t you get involved?’ But people get so bogged down and I know what it’s like. It’s very difficult to get people motivated. You can’t make them do it but I think you can encourage.
Yes, I would like to see it become a good place to live where they’re fighting to get in!
Sylvia (b.1944) was talking to WISEArchive on 18th August 2008 in Norwich.
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