History of BETRA

In 1983 BETRA meetings was held in a Social Service property in Kirkwood Rd. Twenty tenants turned up for the meeting due to an urgent need to stop dogs being allowed on the green . Some of the members at that time were Chair Dick Wittington ,Vice Chair Lorraine Beck,  Secretary Jean Bone,Treasurer Alf Collier. Membership money was collected from door to door.

1990 the Tenants Fund levy was set up by Ian Ritchie a Community Development Officer now a tenant activist with Southwark Group of Tenants Organisation (SGTO) and representing the estate where he lives.

During the 1990s Housing agreed to place black metal fences around ground floor windows to enable tenants to have more privacy and to stop dog owners .This was agreed under health and safety for the tenants in Ryegates and then agreed for Walkynscroft.  Planting  inside these areas was halted due to scaffolding in 2001 for the Brayards Decent Homes  programme phrase 1, which started as a pilot project in 2001 and the estate major works was completed in 2004.

The dumping area at the corner of Hathorne was historically used as such for many years but BETRA was able to get this stopped and fenced of as it is today.

Drugs, needles every where, drunks having their alcohol parties and fights. The estate used as a racing track,  rubbish piled high in front of blocks. The stairways and lifts disgustingly used as a toilet. BETRA stopped it all with their determination to create a community spirit.

Subsequently people who held position as Chairpersons were Joan Collard, Lorraine Beck, Fiona  Hobdell, June Robinson and Sam Taylor,all helped to make the estate what it is today while in their elected term of office.

1991 was the beginning of the campaign to have a football pitch on the estate. 19 youths signed the petition to have a  dog free area to play football. Some of the youth was so good at the game that football clubs was watching them. Over the years plans was made by a local cllr to contact the Isle of Wight prison to ask if they would make football kits free of charge for the boys but nothing came of it. but the fight to get a pitch continued. Those boys are now grandparents.

1994 at long last our demand to use an old unused laundry was on the cards but it was a 16 year struggle to get it as an office and Drop in Centre. The storage cupboards and drying cupboards was torn down and the place redesigned to what it is today though the committee have had  corporate organisations paint it twice

1995 A new constitution was set up and the inagrual meeting took place on August 1st  signed by Chair June Robinson and Secretary Fiona Hobdell

The estate was always known as the “Forgotten Estate” but through sheer determination by the BETRA Committee its voice  began to be heard.

Concrete posters was put in place in front of blocks, ditches that was used by car owners to be able to work under their cars were filled in. Dog owners were warned of the health and safety needs of the children on the estate but the grass area got so bad even dog walkers complained of the mess.and the parents were scared for their kids to play on there.

The blocks became the playground for children and BETRA listened and watched and then attempted again to get a football pitch for the kids.

From 2001 the estate has improved enormously, thanks to BETRA Committee members your  active tenants/ residents. The estate received a complete refurbishment new kitchens bathrooms electrics and boilers. Gas Fires were taken out which caused a great deal of controversy.  Needles used by drug dealers were no longer found on pathways and stairways.

More trees were requested  for the estate green to improve air quality and these are cared for by the committee gardening sub  group ”The Better Living Group” was set up for those with learning difficulties and registered visually impaired.

The Ball Court: An  application went forward to the Cleaner Greener Safer Team for this but it was four years later before it got constructed.  At that time the chair was Sandra Butler and it was her and Treasurer Tabitha Orford that gave the presentation to the Nunhead community Council on the understanding that ball games would not be played in the ball court after 8pm. The BETRA Committee manage the court with the help of tenants & residents living around the court.

Working in Partnership

The new millennium saw the housing blocks having hedges surround them to make dog free community gardens. Enabling all estate users to have use of dog free areas, this was done by working in partnership with Lewis White of the Cleaner Greener Team, Trees for Cities and Area Management.

The Market Garden was developed due to a £10.000 grant received from “Awards for All” applied for by the chair of BETRA Lorraine Beck who again worked with Trees for Cities. This grant funding enable BETRA to create the allotment area , a seating area, have 20 fruit trees placed in the garden of Ryegates making up an orchard and have a shed built.

Throughout the years stronger  links have been made with St Thomas the Apostle College for Boys in Hollydale Rd, Hollydale School and John Donne. Churches are St Mary Magdalene in St Mary's Rd and one time the estate held a small church gathering in Ryegates on a Sunday.

The Southwark Group of Tenants Organisation (SGTO), The Nunhead Community Forum, The Southwark Neighbourhood Team and BETRA members represented the estate on Area Forums, Housing Partnership Board and a number of tenant Council sub committees where they helped to influence decisions that affected our lives as tenants.

The ramp for the wheelchair users cyclists pram and pushchair  users was due to working in partnership with Estate Officer Julie Bray and the councils Area Management.

New Computers we received from Tenants Funding Management Committee, to enable BETRA to open up as a Resource Centre.

Fetes we have managed to hold annually for a number of years. The Bouncy Castle Land is always a prime favorite. The Royal Birthday and Wedding was also celebrated with the estate red white and blue flags fluttering all around the estate.

Every Mayor for the past five years have attended and every year we have received our local ward councilors giving out certificates of merit to our young folk and to our adult members. The Executive member for housing along with the Environment & Regeneration Executive member both jointly opened the now flourishing Community Market Garden.

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