Project Voices

Project Voices: Olga Asma, Brunswick Village

We are people, designing spaces for people. Our latest project voices are from Brunswick Village in Manchester.

It’s been ten years since work started on the transformation of Brunswick in Manchester. This city centre neighbourhood has seen over 500 new homes built and 650 refurbishments completed in and around new public realm and community facilities.

Buttress with S4B started by talking to the community about what they wanted their neighbourhood to be; and now we are back to find out what the experience of living in Brunswick is like for its residents.

Our first story comes from Olga Asma who has lived in Brunswick for 17 years.

the side profile of a lady with short brown hair wearing sunglasses

My name is Olga Asma, and I am from Kyiv in Ukraine, and work in the civil service. I came to the UK when I was 25, and I've lived on the estate now for 17 years. I'm single and have to support my two daughters, and wanted to be closer to my work, so I applied for my house here on the estate, and moved from Chorlton.

It has changed around here. It's improved a lot since I moved in. I remember when I was offered the place I thought it looked dodgy, felt unsafe, but I just had to take to the risk.

two ladies, one wearing a bright pink jacket and the other a blue jumper,have their arms around each smiling at the camera. They are in an city centre allotment.
a lady in a pink jacket squats down as a lady in a blue jumper hoes the ground in front of her.
an aerial view of brunswick in manchester
A lady with short dark hair and in a bright pink jacket stands in front of the brick houses of Brunswick Village by Buttress

The allotment was supposed to be for me initially, but then mum came to stay with me, and she's a great gardener, so she took over and has done a really great job. She planted potatoes, which I thought was a ridiculous idea, as you can buy them in the shops. But she wanted them fresh. She also wants tomatoes, which I think is a waste of space, but it's her domain now. We grow plenty of garlic and if it was up to me I'd cover the whole garden with raspberry bushes and cucumbers!

I love Manchester, it's so friendly. What else do you need, everything is here! I don't use my car much, I can walk everywhere from here, and I'm close to outdoor areas such as the Peak District, Wales or the Lakes, although I still think there could be more green spaces for kids. City Centre living is best if you're an adult, with theatres, cinemas clubs and things like that, but it's not the same for children.

My mum is safely here with me, not in Kyiv, it's a very uncertain future though. It is very peaceful here, and people are happy, but somewhere people are dying.  We just need to enjoy this peace while it lasts. That's life, that's how it is.