eastbourneThe Mapify team were at The Crown & Anchor pub in Eastbourne on Wednesday evening for a HackShop with the Eastbourne Big Local committee.

An area of Eastbourne (Devonshire West, encompassing a road aptly named Seaside) has been given funding by Big Local to be used over the course of ten years to help rejuvenate this overlooked part of the costal town. Bordering the beach and the town’s historic pier, Devonshire West faces a number of problems that it hopes to be able to overcome.

On the night we showed how our online and offline tools could be a helping hand for their rejuvenation project.

Participants discuss problems and solutions in Devonshire West
Participants discuss problems and solutions in Devonshire West

The Mapify team lead an exercise to explore the problems and their knock-on effects on the community. Attendees covered a vast range of topics and issues. A lack of free parking was helping to drive business and customers to more out-of-town stores. A transient population and poor reputation of the area were just a few contributing factors to a lack of people willing to get involved with community projects. One big theme from the evening was a the negative feeling felt towards this area of Eastbourne and lack of ownership that many in the community seem to have over where they live and work.

You would think that talking about an area’s problems for a good portion of an evening would leave you feeling disheartened, but the sheer will and drive of those at the HackShop was inspiring. It would be all so easy for them to throw up their arms and give up on this area of their town, but they don’t. They feel attached and have ownership over their patch of Eastbourne. Others in Eastbourne may feel negatively towards it, but for them it’s home. And surely this is key to the area’s future. If a group of people are willing to give up their time for free to help improve an area it means they care about it. It means that with the right ingredients, encouragement and by building on the things that currently work, then others will also be able to care about Devonshire West too.

The Eastbourne HackShop at the Crown and Anchor pub.
The Eastbourne HackShop at the Crown and Anchor pub.

As well as uncovering various problems we also found out about the various assets, skills and resources that the community currently has. With a little more joined up communication and a common ground to exchange these on, the area could already start to make steps to tackle its various problems.

The Big Local team certainly have their work cut out over the next few years. What became apparent from the session was the realisation that the issues highlighted were often interlinked, meaning certain solutions could possibly help alleviate a number of problems. Likewise it also means that all problems need to be taken into account when trying to improve the area.

The Mapify team hope to be able to assist Devonshire West with its rejuvenation project, and not just because a trip to the seaside would be a refreshing break from London. The area has a great deal to offer and it would be a rewarding challenge to help a community to shape its future for the better.