TIMES may have changed in Girlington but only for the better, residents say.

When Elaine Beldon and her late husband Malcolm first moved to St Leonard’s Grove in 1966, people worked long hours for small luxuries like fitted carpets and bought their children’s clothes second-hand.

This is home, Elaine says, where there’s still those familiar Bradford terraces from the district’s wealthy days as a textile industry giant and when neighbours had tea parties in the street.

And now, 54 years later, there’s still the same determined, hardworking Bradfordians with even more community spirit than ever before.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus, Elaine said: “I’ve seen changes. Of course, when I first moved up here there wasn’t a big Asian community like now.

“We are no different. We’re all God’s children one way or another.

“There’s a lot more community spirit than there used to be.

“In years gone by, I didn’t know my neighbours as well as I do now.

“My daughter used to go sit with an elderly Polish lady for hours on end. She couldn’t understand a word this lady was saying, it was just spending time with her. She found out the Polish for Grandma and she used to call her ‘babcia’.”

“I wouldn’t move from where I am because I’ve got all my friends. I’ve still got relatives in Bradford. They all know that I’m well taken care of. They think ‘We don’t need to worry about our Elaine’.”

And much like the international friendship her daughter struck up, history is now repeating itself.

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Elaine is an adopted grandma in the Ahmed family, friends of her late husband, who still live a few doors down.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Elaine reminisced: “If I couldn’t find Malcolm I’d see him stood across the road with Ashfaq.”

Ashfaq's son Kashif now raises his two young sons with his wife on the same street. The families go through life together – weddings, funerals and everyday occurrences.

32-year-old Kashif said: “Elaine is a core part of our family, at every birthday party, celebration, wedding and there through tough times as well. And the same from us to her as well.”

It’s a story especially poignant for Elaine, who said she wouldn’t have got through grieving for her husband without Kashif and his family.

Elaine continued: “There’s more community now than there ever was when I was younger. When I lost my husband I couldn’t have got through it without my neighbours. They all bought me a bench for my husband.

“On the day of his funeral, I had him brought to the house and all these children were bringing flowers and lifted them up to put them in the coffin with Malcolm.

“They all just rallied round.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

And stories like these are often heard at the nearby mosque, Masjid-E-Umar, by Imam Sajid Safdar.

He preaches “tolerance and respect” to followers young and old and encourages them to ask someone about their day, even if they don’t know them.

The Imam told the Telegraph & Argus: “When you chat with them they feel appreciated and valued somebody’s just asked them.

“We’ve got elders, we’ve got youngsters, we’ve got children, girls, boys and we try to promote peace and harmony because, to us, it’s the last place of hope.

“As a religion, we try to promote hope and happiness. It’s a social gathering.

“We get a lot of people looking after family and neighbours.

“When we do hear stories like this we feel there’s still some community spirit alive in the community. It’s values we’ve got to keep promoting.

“We preach tolerance and respect.

“It’s the circle of life. You’re young today but tomorrow you’re going to be old.

“In Islam we have the five prayers. What we say is that’s one hour of your day. It’s social character.

“Whether it’s opening a door for someone at Morrison’s or helping someone in need, that’s 23 hours of your day.

“Whatever worship you do, that’s between you and your God.”

And while there’s some bad in the community, it is often outweighed by the good, he says.

“That’s in every community, we get positives and negatives,” Imam Safdar said.

Similarly Elaine knows there’s problems that need to be addressed but everyone is tackling it together – as strangers or good friends.

It’s an attitude nurtured by the creation of Bradford4Better, which has held many successful district-wide litter picks in the fight against fly-tippers and litter bugs.

Kashif’s children love taking to the streets for litter picks and Elaine hopes to take part on a smaller level next time.

BD8 resident Abdul Quddus, who lives on Agar Street, says parking, selfish drivers and littering are some of the biggest issues the area is facing.

The resident said: “There’s the community spirit. Everybody knows everyone.

“One of my neighbours does a litter pick every week.

“But we do get people who are selfish. It’s unbelievable.

“The parking is a big issue. There are some houses with three cars in the household but it wouldn’t be so bad if they parked in a sensible manner.

“It’s taking pride in yourself. If people don’t respect themselves, how can they respect others.

“We need to try and educate them and it does start with the schools, with parents.”