What price community?

Ian SerjeantI recently went back to Liverpool to see an exhibition of photographs in the Bluecoat Gallery. They were taken by a friend, Trisha Porter, over forty years ago in Liverpool 8, now more commonly known as Toxteth. It was an area where she lived, as did I and my wife.

The Liverpool Echo covered the story under the by-line “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times”. I pondered over this. At the exhibition I met some people who lived in the area at the time. The photographs showed some of their contemporaries or relatives. Talking with them they observed what family life had been like. Yes, it had been rough, the surroundings far removed from mostly rural Gloucestershire, and there was crime and there was poverty – all this is evident in the photographs. Yet many commented on the sense of community that existed. Was this just nostalgia? I don’t think so. After all, I lived there too and think I agree that much had been lost.

Looking at the images you see families together, kids playing, ordinary life being lived. When interviewed Trisha said “I was trying to capture some of the humanity really.” I think she succeeded and also captured something of the sense of community. So I ask myself “What am I doing to foster a sense of community where I live?” Perhaps we should all ask this question. Perhaps all churches should.

You can see photos from the exhibition at: www.thebluecoat.org.uk/events/view/exhibitions/2726

Ian Serjeant, Churches Officer

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