Residents looking to make a difference in their community will have the opportunity to do so with the launch of the Woodstock Residents’ Association (WRA) this weekend.
The WRA will be launched at the Woodstock Town Hall on Saturday March 24 and is inviting residents and businesses to get involved.
Committee member, Jared Rossouw, explained that the community was going through some big changes, affecting everyone living in the community but for the first time residents would be coming together to launch the association for all who live in Woodstock, “an association where everyone is welcome, where we can share information, discuss issues and work together.” “Have you noticed that many people talk about Woodstock and not to Woodstock? The area is going through big changes that are affecting everyone. We’re a diverse community but we rarely come together,” Mr Rossouw said.
Despite there having been a smaller association in the upper Woodstock area before, new members from across Woodstock have been invited and the boundaries expanded to include everyone. “We want to support the well-being of all residents living in the area and represent the community in its relationship with the local authorities, especially the City of Cape Town. We want to provide a place to share information, discuss differences and agree on common approaches to solving problems in the community,” Mr Rossouw said.
He said support thus far has been “very positive” and many people were looking forward to building something new. There was a general sense of excitement to the news of a new residents’ association for Woodstock, most residents hoping that it will remain open and a place for all residents to explore issues directly affecting them and Woodstock.
Shanaaz Sampson has been living in Woodstock for nearly 45 years and welcomed the idea. “We have heard of residents’ associations operating in Woodstock, but then it’s specifically for upper Woodstock or a specific section of Woodstock. There are plenty of people who want to see an association representing them and fighting for our issues,” she said.
Ms Sampson, who is fully supportive of the idea, wants to see the new residents’ association tackling issues such as vagrancy, gentrification matters and specifically the drug hot spot areas, hoping they could establish a good working relationship with police in order to root out the problem. “Obviously the residents’ association cannot fight crime themselves, but we as residents can share with police our experiences and how it affects us as a community. If the residents’ association prioritises our grievances and gives us a proper platform to share our views and concerns, I do believe it can work and I hope it will work, because it will benefit us,” she added.
Dorian Louw is another resident who felt like an association of this magnitude was needed, especially with Woodstock becoming more popular. Mr Louw said the residents’ association already got things off to a great start by proposing to have an association which represents the entire Woodstock and not only pockets of it. “I do not wish to speak badly about any other existing structures, but I feel like they were only fighting for matters which affected their area of Woodstock and not the entire Woodstock. If you get rid of a problem in your area, then it only means it would shift into another area and not out of Woodstock entirely,” Mr Louw said.
Having lived in Woodstock for nearly 23 years, Mr Louw said there were several issues which required the entire community to stand together, but instead, individual groups only represented certain residents. “How are we supposed to fix our community when smaller groups feel the need to fight matters? We all live in Woodstock and we all should stand together. One large group is so much stronger than several smaller groups. If this new association can bring Woodstock together, they would already be achieving something on its own,” he added.
On Saturday March 24 the plan is to introduce the new constitution and boundary changes to include all of Woodstock and to open the discussion of key neighbourhood issues, as well as the future WRA priority areas.
Mr Rossouw confirmed that the WRA is still looking for new volunteers wanting to be part of building a better Woodstock. “Most organisations, associations and movements of people focus on one issue such as safety, health or housing. The association is one place which brings everyone together who lives in Woodstock. Many people have time and lots of passion for an issue. They are looking for a way to improve the area and make a difference. This is the place to do it,” Mr Rossouw said.
The WRA plans to meet once a month in a committee membe’rs home for two hours and anybody who lives in Woodstock, has a business in the area or has an interest in the WRA, is welcome to join. If you have any further questions regarding the WRA or require further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org