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The grassroots heroes of “Upping It” who are making a difference in Moss Side

In the heart of Moss Side, a community is taking matters into their own hands to uplift their neighbourhood.

Meet “Upping It,” a grassroots community group dedicated to working within the neighbourhood to help restore civic pride, reduce waste, and foster a sense of community in the Edwardian streets and alleys of Moss Side.

The work is done by local residents in the area working with people from Upping It to brighten up Moss Side.

Residents are on a mission to brighten up Moss Side, be it by planting flowers, picking up litter or adding a splash of paint in the alleys between the houses to make sure it’s as beautiful a place as can be.

The Moss Side Community on a Mission

Upping It, a community group founded by local residents in Moss Side, Manchester, is working hard to transform their neighbourhood.

Working collaboratively with local residents to clean up, green, and beautify their surroundings, and to tackle pressing issues like fly-tipping and littering.

By doing so, they aim to create a more attractive, sustainable, and closely-knit community.

The Beginnings of Upping It

Upping It, which began in 2013, centres around the revitalisation of alleyways in Moss Side.

Anne explained, “It all started with a simple idea –  to improve recycling in the neighbourhood. It evolved when residents made clear they wanted to clean and green their alleyways.

“A lot of the work we do with the community now was guided by feedback from collaborative work with residents.

“We wanted to transform these overlooked spaces into vibrant, green alleys that could serve as communal gardens.

“The issue was how, and the answer was working with local residents on each alleyway.

“People were definitely receptive to the idea of sprucing up the neighbourhood.”

The project’s primary goal was to encourage community members to take pride in their neighbourhood.

Anne shared, “People have definitely been receptive to the idea of making everything look nice and taking pride in it. The challenge is the effort it takes to maintain these spaces.”

Maintaining the green alleyways isn’t always smooth sailing.

Anne recounted stories of challenges they faced, including issues with theft and even the discovery of discarded knives hidden in planters.

“The most challenging aspect was hot summers and the desperate need to water the greenery.

“But we persevered because we believed in the power of community and the positive change these green spaces could bring,” she said.

“In recent years we’ve been working very hard to help fit waster butts and hoses to keep things green.

“Anything to help the plants through the hot summers.”

Challenges and Triumphs

One of the project’s standout achievements is the sense of unity it has fostered among Moss Side residents. “People along one street or in one alleyway know many of the people on their street,” Anne said.

The community also uses WhatsApp groups to stay connected and address issues like fly-tipping and burglaries.

What makes the project remarkable is the engagement between communities.

The level of recycling has increased significantly.

Anne said: “It’s a lovely thing when the children get involved – participating in maintaining their work.

“There’s so much more of a sense of neighbourhood now, and people have found a way to involve the children.

“We try and make the link for residents between their green food waste being collected to being transformed into compost which they can use in their gardens.

“By recycling this waste, the circular economy brings it back so they can use it with planters as soil.”

In addition, the project has led to the creation of play zones in many alleys, providing safe and clean areas for children to play.

One unexpected outcome of Upping It has been the enhanced sense of community among Moss Side residents.

Reflecting on their accomplishments, Anne said, “We are creating communal gardens and, therefore, neighbours who can share things with each other.

“That’s what I’m most proud of.

“It’s an ongoing process, but we’re seeing it every day.”

Research Collaboration

In 2018, the Upping It project caught the attention of Dr. Sherilyn MacGregor, a social scientist from the University of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute.

Together with local residents, Dr. MacGregor initiated the “Talking Rubbish in Moss Side” project, focusing on residents’ experiences with litter and recycling in the neighbourhood.

The research included interviews with council officers, university officers, and waste managers, along with doorstep interviews and focus groups facilitated by the Upping It team.

The findings provided unique insights into waste issues, their impact on residents, and potential solutions.

This collaborative research effort led to an event called “A Rubbish Night at the Museum,” where comments from residents were dramatised by university drama students and displayed in the museum

The event featured an extraordinary exhibition at Manchester Museum, aptly named “Rubbish Night at the Museum.”

It was a huge success, in terms of popularity.

The Museum said that was the biggest attendance at a launch event ever.

Organised by the Sustainable Consumption Institute, it delved into the intricacies of the “Talking Rubbish in Moss Side” project.

This exhibition aimed to unravel the complexities of waste management, environmental consciousness, and community engagement, all through the lens of Moss Side’s residents.

Upping It is not just about beautifying alleys; it’s about forging a sense of belonging and pride among Moss Side residents.

So next time you’re in the area, and spot a beautiful alleyway behind the rows of terraced houses, you’ll know that’s part of a thriving local community looking out for their neighbourhood.

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