By Ifé Fatunasé
If you listen to the news or read the newspapers, you would have no doubt have heard the words ‘The Big Society’. In its ideal form, it means everyone coming and working together to make their community a wonderful place to live, but Howard Greenfield, doesn’t believe you would see that in Finchley any time soon, or anywhere else in London for that matter.
“The Big Society is now lost’ says the director of the Winkworth Estate Agent in Finchley Central. ‘There are too many people, so much diversity and different cultures, that it’s maybe impossible to have a community like there may have been 40 years ago”
But that doesn’t mean he, or his company have given up on the area. Howard Greenfield believes schools are the way to break in if you want to reach out to communities, because there are children from across the board and it’s a place where their parents do come together and form a small society.
That’s why Winkworth in Finchley Central helped sponsored the Chalgrove School summer fair. They also made financial donations to ‘Safestart’, an independent road safety scheme, to help publish leaflets that was distributed to parents at Moss Hall and St Mary’s primary schools.
At the moment Winkworth in Finchley Central only make donations and they don’t get involved, but they are looking to change that. In fact Winkworth branches across North London have got together to try and find a way become more integrated in their local communities.
The question is, how do they actually do that?
Howard says ‘ There are so many different parts of the community. Round here there isn’t one community’
He told me about his colleagues outside cities where ‘communities’ do exist.
‘People talk and meet at central places like the local pub, so Winkworth staff there know the community socially and can get involved. People know who they are. People in Finchley don’t know who I am. They see this as a business and we don’t socialise together’
The Winkworth branches in North London are meeting again within the next month to nail down a way they can get involved, instead of just making donations to schemes. Some of their number have suggested local concerts like the picnic concerts at Kenwood House, but no firm decision has yet been made.
Make no mistake, there are obvious motives for Howard Greenfield and Winkworth wanting to get involved in their local communities. Howard acknowledges that advertising is a factor. The company wants to get its name out there, in as many ways as it can.
Howard says there’s more to it though. He’s been working in this area for 25 years, and says he wants to feel part of it.
“We are not just here to make money’ he said, “We want to give back to the community. We are not just a corporate.”
Howard and his colleagues are still looking for a way to get more involved, so if you have any ideas, drop in, he’d love to hear them.