The area: Old Swan is an neighbourhood in Liverpool facing many challenges. Unemployment rates and household poverty are higher than the national average. The area is divided by major “arterial” roads resulting in traffic jams, noise, risk of road accidents and ‘hot spots’ for air pollution.

Who we are:  The group overseeing the programme has named itself Better Old Swan (BOS).  It includes residents supported by Liverpool Community and Voluntary Services, local businesses and a range of professionals working in the area: elected councillors, local authority professionals and third sector organisations. 

What we have done: BOS organised consultations with a wide range of local stakeholders to identify topics for actions. Over time interest coalesced around the local economy and in particular regeneration of the local high street, increased employment and improvements in the environment. BOS also conducted several engagement activities such as screening the documentary “The Health Divide”, organising drop-in sessions and participating in local festivals. It also conducted an audit of shops and patterns of use on the high street, and held meetings with residents from neighbouring wards to learn about their projects.

Resilience enhancing emerging actions

A number of areas for action have been identified and initiatives are underway

  • The focus of the first area for action is to improve air pollution. Activities include:
    • Participation in the Steering Group of the Liverpool Combined Region Air Quality Study (LCRAQS). BOS was the only group representing the voice of local communities.
    • Partnered with the local authority to submit a bid to the Government (OLEV) for EV charging points in Liverpool, which will include Old Swan area.
    • Teamed up with the British Lung Foundation (BLF), which held a reception at the Houses of Parliament in October 2018 as part of the BLF Clean Air campaign. One Resident Adviser and his family secured funding from the BLF to attend the reception along with 70 MPs and members of the Clean Air Parents Networks in Westminster. The group asked their MPs to support funding for the ‘Clean Air for Children Programme’ to ensure that schools can clean up the air their pupils are breathing. 
    • Completed a pilot study on indoor and outdoor air pollution. To do so, it linked with academics from Lancaster University’s Environment Centre to develop a citizens’ science project to measure indoor and outdoor air pollution.
    • A Clear Air Day 2019 pledge has been made to make Old Swan greener: https://twitter.com/oldswanalive?lang=en
    • Produced a video about the effects of indoor air pollution and how communities can get involved (below).

Other activities 

  • BOS, with support from the Joseph Lappin Centre, a local community centre, secured a funding bid from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to develop a project on “Old Swan WWW1 – Then & Now – Commemoration of Women’s Roles”. This project involves a large number of stakeholders including the National Museum of Liverpool, the library, schools, business and residents. Participatory methodologies will be used to gather information from other residents and local archives on women’s roles.
  • Dialogues are underway with local agencies to explore opportunities for residents to voice concerns and influence decision making that affects Old Swan. These include the Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub, City Life, Business in the Community, the Police Service, the Fire Service, the local authority, as well local businesses.
  • Two residents launched a community magazine for organisations to promote their services to the local community. It was first published in spring 2018 with a print run of 8,000 copies. It now prints 10,000 copies, reaching an audience of 20,000 people.


Neighbourhood academic lead:

Ana Porroche-Escudero; E-mail: a.porroche-escudero@lancaster.ac.uk