I met some really amazing people during the development of Help Out. One of them was Bill, the guy who just got fed up with the graffiti near his home. He started painting out all the tags in alley near his home. He told me that his neighbours and people using the alley to get to a local park told him he was crazy. That the taggers would just fight back. And in the first year, they did.
But he kept on painting out the graffiti and it began to work. One of the really amazing things about him is that he kept a record of all the tags he painted out. He counted it all up, month by month, and shared the results with the borough council and then he shared them with me. It tells a pretty fantastic story. One person can make a difference. If you stay on it and keep on it, you can have a nicer environment. Taggers will give up or move on.
But it doesn’t tell the whole story. In the last few years, the youth offending service have started to tackle this alley, too. So, part of the reduction in tags that Bill had to remove was that. But would this alley have been a target for clean-up if a local citizen hadn’t been so pro-active in making sure the area was free of graffiti. Bill and his wife also report other damage and take part in local clean-ups, partly through an active ‘friends of’ group that she chairs and he supports. I first met them when they were clearing out a ditch on the other side of their local park. They work with other concerned citizens and get them involved, too. They work with the local council to make sure the place where they live is the kind of place they want to live.
And that’s the spirit of Help Out! A new online service that supports people like Bill by:
- showing the work they’ve done on maps
- helping them to organise other local people through functionality that supports ‘friends’ groups.
- helping them to report issues they can’t deal with, and
- find issues others have reported that they can Help Out with.