Youth given a voice in Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Forum
- Credit: Archant
A 23-year-old student who was inspired by her parents’ fond memories of growing up in Dartmouth Park, has become the youngest member of a new neighbourhood forum working to shape the community.
Bethan Mascarenhas spent her summers walking on Hampstead Heath and swimming in the ponds with her grandparents.
When she started university in London, she moved from her small home town in Wales to a house in Grove Terrace, Dartmouth Park – her first time alone in the big city.
Now she has become the youngest committee member of the new Dartmouth Park Neighbourhood Forum.
“When I first moved here, I felt quite isolated and I was looking to be more involved and meet people,” said Bethan, a student at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, in Swiss Cottage.
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“At first, I thought I was too young to be on the committee – everyone else had a professional background. But people said it would be good to hear my opinions because young people live here too.”
The forum is the second of its kind in Highgate.
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They are being set up across the country under the Localism Act to put planning into the hands of the community.
In coming months, the 17 Dartmouth Park committee members and interested residents will draft a plan of action for the area. This will eventually be submitted to the council.
At the inaugural meeting last week, the development of Swain’s Lane and the future of Mansfield bowling green were key concerns.
Bethan says that even though Dartmouth Park is a far cry from the Welsh countryside she grew up in, she can still feel at home because of all the green space.
“The openness and greenness is something really special about the area,” she said.
“Someone said at the meeting that it has a semi-rural feel and I think it’s important to keep that and it’s reflected in the way people act.
“People are a lot more friendly here than in other parts of London.”
Bethan, who used to help organise the May Day parade with the council when she was a teenager and helped with Rotary charity events, added that it was great to see support for campaigns to save the post office and the Highgate Library.
At the forum’s next meeting on February 28, a vote will be held to elect the committee chairman.
Bethan is considering running for secretary but would most like to be involved with organising community events.
“You can tell people are passionate about the area and it’s nice to have a forum like this, rather than just setting up a stall once in a while,” she added.