Issues in Riverside: from poverty to fly-tipping

Riverside is home to many different people and venues. What are its most pressing issues?

Sophia Gardens Riverside
Fall foliage on Taff Trail in Sophia Gardens, a central part of the Riverside ward.

Riverside boasts beautiful outdoor spaces and vibrant cultural centres. But like any neighbourhood, those who live and work in the ward have experienced changes over time, some positive and some negative. 

Bystanders, community organisers, shop and charity workers alike, we went out with a simple question: What is the biggest issue in your experience of Riverside?

The deprived section of the community was at the forefront of many minds as well as the environment, crowds, gardens and green spaces.

Lisa, 44, Social Farms and Gardens development worker

Food Community Centre Riverside

“We are Social Farms & Gardens, a charity that promotes community growing across the UK. A big part of that is helping health and wellbeing by reducing fly tipping, an initiative called ‘Love Where You Live,’ encourages community involvement coming together and making the planters look pretty in order to deter the fly tipping.”

Kristen, 31, Social Farms and Gardens administrator

Food Community Centre Riverside

“Anti-social behaviour is not being tackled because there are not enough resources within the police force. I’ve been in the same area where there was a crime committed, there was one community officer doing everything he could, but the rise in the number of petty things like windows being smashed and theft from stationery cars isn’t being dealt with.”

Allan, 67, volunteer at South Riverside Community Development Centre

Allan Riverside

The main issue in Riverside is poverty. It’s huge. Not to do with people working or not working, the fiscal element is probably at most a fifth of what it is about. Poverty is about the broader determinants of poverty, such as your ability to engage with society, being able to afford to and having the confidence. It overlaps into lower levels of educational attainment and has a reverse snowballing effect if you have a parental group from a lower educational attainment background then they are less able to support the next generation in achieving a better education.”

Samantha Shaw, 49, community journalist at Radio Cardiff

Samantha Shaw Riverside journalist

“Poverty, desperation and opportunities. Lately, homelessness and drug addiction – it’s very obvious. It’s not like it’s their fault or the area’s fault, but drugs are quite a worrying thing lately. It’s too commonplace. It’s quite cohesive though. Riverside is very diverse, but also very cohesive in the same way.”

Mags, 63, team leader at Inroads Wellbeing Institute

Wellbeing Centre Riverside Cardiff

“We’ve been here for over 20 years, but when we moved here from across the road and refurbished it the local community started to be very negative. They opposed the drug, alcohol and mental health centre. Even though the funding comes from the drug and alcohol capital fund, so it couldn’t have been used for anything else. We had threats that they were going to torch it. They said, ‘You’ve had the drunks and the druggies, now you’re bringing the loonies too!'”

Arvinder, 22, off-license shop attendant

Arvinder shop Riverside

“It’s definitely gotten a lot busier. A lot of these offices behind us have had a lot more people come in. All this used to be vacant, but now there are a lot more people there the last couple of years. But not too many bad things, as far as I can see.”

Steve, 53, retired

Steve walking Riverside

“I tend to walk here every day. I don’t think there are any major issues. Obviously, it could be a bit cleaner and tidier, but in general, I think it’s really good. I think it’s a great place to live and be.”