A short film promoting better relationships between traditional residents and students is being shown on screens around the University of Chester campus.
The video was commissioned by the Garden Quarter Association after “an awful lot of disturbances” last year according to association co-chairman Matt Baker, who said this year’s Freshers’ Week was “not as bad”.
Matt, a professional musician and actor, approached the university Dean of Students Rev Dr Lesley Cooke about the idea which he was determined wouldn’t be “anything preachy”.
The result was a film, entitled ‘The Garden Quarter – Living, Studying and Working Together’, shot by Andy Davies of Dee Digital and supported by the university.
Costing £1,000 and completed in just a few days, it was funded from the members’ budget of ward councillor and current Lord Mayor of Chester Bob Rudd and depicts every day scenes from the street and people’s homes and gardens set against an upbeat soundtrack.
Students and residents were interviewed about their perspectives on life in the Garden Quarter, with a positive slant offered on an area alive with the sounds and sights of the city.
Matt, who has a cameo role in the video as he was captured playing the accordion at a narrow boat hen party, explained: “This neighbourhood has not gone to the dogs, it’s still an incredibly vibrant place and a place where a lot of people would rather live than anywhere else. It’s still one of the nicest and friendliest neighbourhoods in the city.”
Matt said the university acknowledges there are “small pockets causing awful disturbances” and “sleepless nights for residents” .
But he added: “I also hear stories of neighbours knocking and saying “Hello” to students and this may be the first seeds of a good relationship starting to be built.”
In the film, resident Claudia Maranao says living alongside creative people in a “bohemian” and “friendly” environment is “a real bonus” as far as she is concerned.
“It’s a place where nice things happen and I think that’s probably because there’s a real sense of community here,” she said.
Student Charlotte Houghton said: “There’s a great mix of students and families as well so it isn’t just studentville.” Touching on the need for mutual understanding and respect, she told fellow scholars. “I think it’s important to remember that when you are on your socials and you’re half way through your bar crawl going up Bouverie Street, you need to remember there are families about, there are people that have work at 7am the next day.”
Andy from Dee Digital said: “It was great to be able to work on a small scale community project like this, especially as I used to live in the area and know all about the disturbances.
"It’s a lively, friendly place and finding willing contributors to the film like Charlotte and Claudia was a simple matter of walking around and speaking the people who live there. It just goes to show what can be achieved on a small budget and in just a few days.”
The video was shown at the Freshers’ induction delivered by Vice Chancellor Professor Tim Wheeler and is on plasma screens across campus.