Housing association and artist join forces to build a brighter future for residents

When residents at Hargreaves Court, in Leek, wanted to brighten up their environment, they thought big.
The result was a vast, stunning mural that has become the talk of the neighbourhood.
The vibrant artwork, which measures 24×14 feet, depicts a Victorian schoolyard and is the work of artist Nick Roach, who took around four months to complete it using graffiti-style spray cans.
It overlooks the entrance to Hargreaves Court, a Staffordshire Housing Group property, where residents suggested a creative solution to brighten up a wall that looked dreary and forbidding.
Staffordshire Housing Group had built a retaining wall in plain brick as a protective measure after there had been a landslip directly opposite the entrance to Hargreaves Court, which is a converted mid-19th century school – hence the mural’s school yard theme.
When residents suggested a mural would make the wall less oppressive, housing association staff took heed and joined forces with Hanley-based social enterprise the Unity Foundation – a long-term partner – to see if they could deliver a colourful solution.
Resident Simon Daniels instigated the work when he suggested commissioning the artwork. “It was just a blank brick wall which looked like the side of a house. Now it’s 100 per cent better, much better than it was.
“Now it’s finished I think the residents really appreciate it.”
Will Sherratt, programme director for the Unity Foundation, said he and colleagues consulted residents about what the mural should depict and collected old photographs to form an idea of how the area used to look
He added: “We’ve worked with the housing association a lot in the past and they always want to bring a creative approach to things.
“They wanted to give the place a bit of atmosphere. It’s gone down really well and it’s brought a bit more life and a good vibe to the square.”
Rachael Cleary, Staffordshire Housing Group regeneration and sustainability project manager, said: “It’s a lovely scheme and it’s good that it shows the history of the building itself. The residents seem very happy with it.
“If residents aren’t happy with something they generally let us know, but it’s often to do with putting benches and plants in unused areas. This is a really big piece of art.”
She added that Nick Roach had to withstand everything the weather could throw at the mural but Unity had worked hard to deliver the scheme, including repairing paintwork damaged by rain and damp.
“They came out and found out about the history of the building and came up with the drawings. They were absolutely brilliant and they’ve done everything we’ve asked of them.”
Notes to Editors:
For media enquiries contact Sarah Pye on 01782 743883.
Based in Stoke on Trent with homes and services throughout Staffordshire and East Cheshire, the Staffordshire Housing Group comprises Staffordshire Housing Association, Arch, Blue Mountain and Revival Home Improvement Agency. The group is dedicated to creating opportunities and changing lives by providing high quality homes and services to a diverse range of people.
Parent company Staffordshire Housing Association owns and manages around 3,000 homes for rent and sale, and also delivers regeneration and housing development.
Revival, the group’s home improvement agency, works with older and vulnerable people to maintain their properties, help them return home from hospital, adapt their homes to suit their health needs and maintain their independence.