A guest blog by Tessa, a youth worker in Gallatown, Kirkcaldy
I come from the Gallatown in Kirkcaldy. Poverty, deprivation, social exclusion and lack of opportunities have had a massively detrimental impact in the Gallatown and it has been in serious decline for years. I spent most of my life thinking this is how life is - but why should it be? We are not statistics; we are people and deserve to give ourselves the best possible chance at anything we choose and want to be and how we want to live. I want a better place for my family and friends to live, better prospects, a safe and secure community we're proud of – not just my community, but the whole of Scotland.
Around two and a half years ago I lost my job and had to give up volunteering with Rotaract because of my financial situation, dealing with my health issues and the mental health situation of someone close to me. This led to me becoming really socially isolated compounding my problems. Luckily for me, two years ago I met the Gallatown Link Up Worker and got involved in some local activities. This took away some of the stress and allowed me to get back into volunteering locally – knowing that I could help out at an activity, in my own community and also benefit by getting a bite to eat and making new friends, was a huge benefit. I began to realise I had something to offer and by having access to a variety of opportunities in my own community, I started to build on my skills which also helped me regain some of the confidence and self-belief I had lost.
I have been involved in Link Up almost from day one, starting from the Great Gallatown Scone-Off which developed into the Gallatown Hot Pots cooking club and has now been running for almost two years, the Family Fun Days and Soggy Sports - now the Gallatown Youth Club. Getting involved in these projects and helping out made me feel good about myself as well as giving me something productive and fun to do, instead of the usual normal day-to-day activities of vegetating in front of the T.V. or going on benders for days on end. Being involved in the Link Up projects gave me something to get up for in the morning.
A guest blog by Marjory Barquist, Police Division, Scottish Government
On a lovely sunny Spring morning last week Paul Johnston, Director of Safer Communities in the Scottish Government, and I travelled to Wishaw to meet two Police Scotland officers, Susan and Fiona, who are taking an assets-based approach in Gowkthrapple.
Colleagues from the Building Safer Communities Programme visited Gowkthrapple late last year and you can read about their visit in this blog.
Paul and I were interested in Police Scotland’s approach and we were very impressed by
Susan and Fiona’s enthusiasm for and commitment to this taking an assets based approach. They spoke knowledgably about the community, the challenges residents face and their role as ‘beat cops’.
They took us to the Community Centre where we talked to residents and saw how positively they interacted with Susan and Fiona. It was clear how much had been done to build up the relationship between the community and the police. We heard that people felt safer and more able to refer concerns to Susan and Fiona when they saw them out and about in the community.
The community members I spoke to had clear ambitions to develop and grow. They spoke about the need for a homework club for local children which would ensure homework was done as well as providing a hot meal and some social activities. This was seen as an important part of giving children a better future.
We also visited the CentrePoint where we spoke to staff from Garrion Housing. They said that the visible presence of the police in the community had a positive effect. Issues raised by Garrion residents could be passed on quickly to Fiona and Susan and people were more willing to report crimes like housebreaking.
There’s still a lot to be done to bring the two parts of Gowkthrapple together and to build on the successes that we saw and heard about on our visit. The approach taken by Police Scotland fits very well with the Policing Principles set out in the legislation that brought about the single police service for Scotland. In particular the approach reflects the principle of Police Scotland working in collaboration with others to police in way that is accessible to and engaged with local communities, and promotes measures to prevent crime, harm and disorder.
Susan and Fiona clearly have a lot of experience and insight to offer to others involved in asset based approaches. Equally, they might be able to find some practical solutions to the issues that they face if they were part of a network involving others trying similar approaches in other parts of Scotland. It's good to hear that this is something that is being taken forward now by the Building Safer Communities Programme.
All in all we had a very interesting and thought-provoking morning. Paul and I would certainly recommend a visit to this or similar approaches if the opportunity arises.
What's been happening?
The 2012-13 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey results were published on 7 March 2014. They show that the number of crimes in Scotland fell by 22% compared to 2008-09.
Read the news release | Access the full report
The Building Safer Communities Programme Board met for the third time on 27 February 2014 after visiting Bridging the Gap in the Gorbals, Glasgow. The Board agreed a phase 1 stretch aim and ratified two proposals - one for a national multi-agency community safety team and another for national support for place-based action.
Read the minutes of the meeting | Learn more about Bridging the Gap
We published a review of Total Place approaches in Scotland on 27 February 2014. The report covers initiatives underway in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen and was compiled by our national adviser Richard Whetton.
Read the report
This is where you'll find the latest news and views from the BSC programme and guest blogs from those involved in making Scotland safer and stronger.