A story of Hamiltonhill
We’re delighted to share a guest blog by an ABCD Practitioner, Alistair Mitchell. The blog shows a journey that hears local people into expression with one another; finding a community solution to a local issue. As we read the story we found that it resonates strongly with two of the 12 domains of people-powered change, namely, building communities and civic action for a deeper democracy. Thank you for sharing.
The Nurture Development Team
Back in December 2015, I met a few passionate residents who wanted to rebuild their community in a small patch of Possilpark. The residents decided they wanted to bring people together, to have fun and to discuss what matters to them in community. This blog follows their journey of making small changes to make a big difference to their area.
At the Christmas Event residents asked each other for a load of community wishes on Christmas tags for the area. A couple were about having benches for older people to sit on. Hamiltonhill, much like many areas of Possilpark, doesn’t have great access to local shops – it is a good hike from Saracen Street up the hill with messages (Scots for the groceries), especially for one of the neighbours with mobility issues.
As well as that the residents had noticed that over the summer there were people coming up to the area in the summer to have picnics. Another of the unique aspects of the area is that it is one of the few areas of Possilpark with clear green space, which can be used for such a gathering. However, residents had noticed on their facebook group that a lot of litter was being left. Though it was likely that people bagged up their rubbish and left them next to the nearest lamppost and the seaguls got into them (as the bins have all been removed) people got really upset and started accusing neighbours. Using the story of the ‘doomed picnic bench’ – we talked with some of the residents about how some picnic benches in the area could make a welcoming space for these families, encourage them to feel part of the community and hopefully encourage people not to leave rubbish, to create a new social space, and of course to help Alice and her friends get back up the ‘hill.
As a group, residents applied to the Spirit of Ruchill and Possilpark community panel for a £500 ‘Spark’ grant for picnic benches and a barbeque day at Spark in the Park – a Detroit Style event for grassroots ideas in Ruchill and Possilpark. The group managed to pull in two other neighbours, Marion, who had lived in Hamiltonhill all her life, and Barbara, who had only been living in Hamiltonhill for a few years to do their ‘pitch’ at the event. Having won their funding at the event, the group set about buying the Picnic benches at a discount, and celebrating their action with an end of summer party. The rest, barbeques, bouncy castles, football stuff, and another spare bench that was donated – were pulled in using favours from friends and neighbours, and ‘lends’ from organisations to make it happen (CHIP/Bethany).
The event, organised and run by residents without professional input, was also supported with meat provided by the local butcher (at a mega discount because he grew up with the residents), and a raffle organised by neighbours, bringing in a tonne of donations from people in adjacent streets. The video attached on this blog was taken by Jimmy – just another resident who filmed some of the goings on, on his own.
As mentioned, one of the benches that they have was also a donation from a neighbour – a few days after the event I saw some older gentlemen out clearing the grass, planting pots beside it, and clearing the weeds from the kerbside to make their space a little bit nicer.
Where next? We’ll keep working on the things that need to happen in Hamiltonhill to make the area better, we’ll keep encouraging residents to make connections and share in the joy of community, and we will keep working to identify what is strong in the area to heal what is wrong.