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Reflections on a Bridgeton Walkabout

20 Nov 2015 | Rachel Harris

We moved into our new home at the Olympia building in Bridgeton just over two months ago. While many of us are out and about meeting people in the local area, we decided to venture out as a team to hear from local community organisations and to learn about what is going in Bridgeton.

Fortunately for Cat and me, Robert Doyle and Claire McLachlan offered to be our guides. Robert and Claire are Community Workers for Thriving Places in Parkhead, Dalmarnock and Camlachie, and are based at the G31 Centre in Camlachie. Here are some reflections on our walkabout around Bridgeton.

Discovery 1 – there are some wonderful public spaces around Bridgeton 

These range from the open spaces of Glasgow Green; to the warm and friendly spaces in the Bridgeton Community Learning Campus that are used to bring people together (there was a Halloween party in full swing when we were there) and to remember loved ones (such as the celebrate life event); to the newly refurbished theatre space in the Glasgow Women’s Library.

Discovery 2 – there is a wealth of history, and many visible demonstrations of how people want to share and remember local heritage 

From the beautiful map that greets you as you enter the Calton Heritage Centre, to the local heritage walks from Glasgow Women’s Library, including this walk around the East End of Glasgow.

Discovery 3 – the wider role of women is celebrated in Bridgeton 

The art installation outside the library drew our attention to the role of women in the community, as well as the depth of resource that women’s writing offers. 

Visiting Calton Heritage Centre was a chance to learn about current initiatives undertaken by women. This includes WitsHerFace, which is a collective of local female filmmakers, actors, directors, writers and producers, featuring Karen Dunbar (Karen Dunbar Show, Chewing the Fat), Elaine McKenzie Ellis (Rab C Nesbitt), Maureen Carr (Still Game) and many more Scottish actresses. These women meet regularly at Calton Heritage and Learning Centre and recently put on a night of free comedy sketches.

Discovery 4 – communities and organisations are working closely with each other through good times and challenging ones 

Staff at the Citizens Advice Bureau described how much of their work involves helping people submit appeals regarding benefits sanctions, indeed the majority of these appeals have led to sanctions being overturned.  

During the Commonwealth Games last year, Calton Heritage and Learning Centre secured Celebrate Funds from the Big Lottery Fund to deliver activities to make sure the people of Calton could enjoy the Games atmosphere, along with the rest of the city. This involved building Calton’s very own temporary beach, with real sand!

As part of our Understanding Glasgow website, we produce health profiles of neighbourhoods across Glasgow, including Bridgeton, and so it was helpful for our staff to get to know the people and groups making a difference in their community. 

Meeting these groups in Bridgeton was an insight into the many ways – big and small – in which people and organisations value and build on the strengths, successes and skills of individuals and communities. This has strong links with some of our work on assets and resilience, which has explored both how asset-based approaches can be used when working to improve health and wellbeing in local communities, but also how the concept of resilience is an important factor in enabling individuals and communities to withstand challenges such as poverty, inequality, worklessness and other factors that endanger health and wellbeing.

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