• Stephen Shaw


Updated: Jul 11, 2020

Past. Present. Future.

All the photographs I take document Characters and places that are scenes of memorable local events in Grange park history, murders, drug overdoses, crimes and lives lost on the estate with a strong symbolic narrative of superstition that speaks through lingering ghosts of past events affecting the future, deja-vu, omens and portents that ultimately aligns to the birth of the council estate along to its current problems and also an intimate personal story.

When and how was this vicious circle allowed to develop? What, if anything, does the council do to improve the situation? How do I think some of the people living there could be helped?

When I was a child I lived with my nan and grandad who didn't have luxury's such as toothpaste, nowadays people seem to be more stressed and dropping like fly's, many people have not survived this modern learning curve. My nan and grandad worked hard and lived to a grand old age (76 78 respectively) and we all enjoyed a greater feeling of community and respect for our neighbour and vicea versa. Kids would be seen playing with a tweety bird that was purchased off the coal man and be happy all day engaging with this simple toy, nowadays its about knowing and consuming as much as possible through information available on the internet which changes what people do and how they act. There was also the rag and bone man who was a regular site in the neighbourhood along with the bread van and fish van now its just a constant CCTV surveillance by blacked out windowed vehicles on the estate that is similar to an ever watching eye or the unknowing generated through a panopticon doesn't deter crime as well you think but only pushes it further underground, out of sight. These methods also usually only promote barriers, an us and them mentality and creates an air of tension between the local people and police.

Today the feeling is of less respect for you neighbour. its more dog eat dog, survival of the fittest in a proper council jungle, where every man/woman/child is for himself/herself and lives a precarious existence, trying to outwit the next person just to stay afloat. The children know more than the adults and experience birth etc at a younger age which seems to be getting younger.

Most live through their phones as a window into a world they desire, especially the younger ones who use it in every way you could imagine and ones you couldnt, revenge, surveillance, shaming others, obtaining and delivering drugs, the list goes on.

Blackpool is a magnet for people with problems and they are dumped in the HMO's that are mainly found in areas around the town centre and north shore, south shore and central drive but not on the council estates. These mainly consist of locals and people already firmly established in the area with a need and good reason to be housed there, such as on Grange Park , which is mainly made up of council houses and flats where local people and family's houses are bought, rented and passed down to their children and family's of which have lived there for generations. Their way of life and ingrained habitual survival methods become more exaggerated and pronounced through each generation with new survival codes, laws and techniques.

The ingenuity of this adapting underclass is quite astounding as I have witnessed in the tools they create to deal, evade the law, make money and subsist. There are some positive but unfortunately also many negative social behaviours adapted to survive in this specific isolated environment that may be eased as below.

This vicious circle has been developed through a lack of social mobility. Ultimately the issue at its core is about visibility. I feel it needs to be broke using investment in infrastructure, methods such as gentrification and the promotion of class integration. The placing together of Housing within different classes needs to be thought about more considerately, a unified universal structure. We need to lose these dividing boundary's such as class and decrease segregation that only ultimately creates long term negative groups, behaviour and division within them.We need to stop building barriers between people that only forms a framework for stigmatisation. The key is losing the visibility of these barriers in each others minds.

This will take time.

People need every chance to better themselves. To lose old habits and pass desirable ones to their children. Lack of education is also a big problem and the need or want to be educated alongside the wrong aspirations.

Citizens need a realisation, a mirror to show them how they, and the other, live to help them come to their own conclusions about the harsh reality of the living they endure, which life is better and how can it be achieved. People will take the most desirable route.

The problem is now so far gone its hard to rectify with one simple solution so these same problems are generally swept under the carpet and left, pretending they don't exist, and other methods used to contain and cope but ultimately make the situation worse.

My work shows truths hard to ignore and brings these issues back to the forefront of peoples minds giving back an identity to the predicaments and people at hand.

There is little really that would or could solve the problem quickly, without big investments of money to re-home and reestablish local people and this would still take time.

New housing is currently being built and has been over the past 7 years that re-homes new people from different backgrounds to the estate. Although some small steps are being made in my area such as new community hub buildings to help return to this past feeling of nostalgic respect for each other, aptly named surestart, and techniques that focus on basic education and improving the quality of life and the needs of the people living here. They also provide food packages citizens advice and help etc.

Is Blackpool’s reputation as a cheap and cheerful Stag Do and Hen Night destination to blame for Grange Park’s problems, or could the income from this tourism contribute to solving the area’s problems?

#socialcleansing #socialdocumentary #photographer #Blackpool #drugculture #documentary #Photography #Documentary #blackpool

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