In 2015 local Maryhill resident and friend Eva Baille, and The Children’s Wood in collaboration with The Goethe Institute (where Eva worked at the time) hosted an inequality event on the land and in Glasgow Kelvin College. Inequality was a subject both Eva and ourselves were passionate about given the relevance of income inequality to our area. The Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow is situated in one of the most unequal areas in the UK. Eva secure funding for us to join the European INtransit project which took place between 2015 and 2016 with our Market of Ideas event being the first in the programme. At our Market of Ideas inequality event we heard from projects from Denmark, Ireland and Finland. We also heard from a youth project in Sweden Mitt 127. This youth led, postcode based, festival had amazing results in engaging young people, tackling crime, getting young people into work and integrating minority groups in an economically deprived area of Sweden. This project – along with the work of the Violence Reduction Unit and the Adverse Childhood Experiences research – has inspired our very own youth based programme: the G20 Youth Festival. We owe a thanks to Eva for her role in brining the Mitt 127 to our attention.
After hearing from the Mitt 127 project, we wanted to do something similar in our area, we had a strong belief that there is nothing of this kind for young people – something open to all, community based and organised and led by young people. The MITT 127 model could work for our community. However, though it was clear this type of idea could work it wasn’t until Spring/Summer 2018 when we met the young people, that anything happened with this idea.
Suddenly there was an urgent need to work with young people, and we had a framework to in mind which could support local young people. This was due to the young people engaging in antisocial behaviour on the land and in the wider area. We were able to work with the young people intensively because our charity had more capacity, now that we had employed staff, many volunteers and no intensive campaigns to fight. We approached our committee about the antisocial behaviour and asked if the charity could fund a few weeks of youth work to help us engage with the young people; to find out who they were and what they needed. Luckily, the committee were supportive. It soon became clear that there was a dire need for youth engagement and for a way for our young people to take positive risks (something the outdoors provides). Young people in our area have very little opportunities for free activities and especially activities outdoors and easily available in their community. We continued to spend every evening outdoors for the next 2 months engaging and getting to know the young people.
We were able to carry out this level of engagement because The National Theatre of Scotland agreed to employ youth workers instead of security for the land, for two weeks when they staged the outdoor production of The Reason I Jump on the Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow. This was a theatrical performance about autism based on the book by 13 year old autistic boy Naoki Higashida and directed by Graham Etough.
During this time, an intense level of youth engagement happened, many different youth workers, volunteers and community members helped us to work with the young people. We got to know who the young people were, what schools they were from, what they wanted and how we could support them. To cut a very long story short, we now have a fantastic youth based festival: G20 Youth Festival and more recently we have secured the rent of an indoor youth base. It is composed of many different young people who are responding well to a relationship based, hopefull approach. We also work during the day through the schools with some of our young people and run activities like Forest School, art and cooking. We meet three evenings a week in our new youth base, cooking, eating food and running activities which the young people have chosen. Here are some quotes from our young people
“the fact they were trying to help me get a job and that man, instead of being like a random wee bam from Maryhill I think they are trying to get me somewhere, help me see I can make something of myself”
“[without the base I would be] on the streets or in the jail, deffo, cause there’s nothing else to do, there’s just nothing else about, there’s just nothing. We would just be kicking about the streets bored and getting into trouble cause we live in the shithole.”
“I like this because you get a bit of time to yourself and like get to sit in here instead of hanging about outside”
Thanks to Glasgow City Council’s Holiday Hunger Fund (and various other funding streams) we are now in a more sustainable position. This allows us to work with young people during the holidays, working indoors and outdoors and taking them away to do activities like fishing, parkour and dance. Our dream is that in the future we have a summer long festival organised and led by our young people, not just on our land but in other areas locally so that activities are spread out and diverse.
The heartwarming feedback is that since we started working with the young people the police have reported a reduction in crime and antisocial behaviour.
Quote from local resident
Since moving here a few years ago I have gone from being a skeptic to thoroughly appreciating what the youth team do for the local kids. And the kids themselves have impressed me when challenged and their response . Many oare from backgrounds that don’t care, and now they do care. Teaching them resilience and respect. It’s not perfect, many kids still get in trouble but without this stable safe place to go they would have less chance of feeling relevant and that their lives matter. The team and project to me is what a community like maryhill needs more than ever.
The success of the G20 Youth Festival is down to the amazing work from our youth workers and volunteers. Our youth workers are bringing out the best in our young people and integrating them into the community. You can follow their progress here
Meet Emily –
Emily initiated, and manages, the G20 Youth Festival in response to young people coming to the Children’s Wood and Meadow.
Meet Jacque –
Hi I’m Jacque Working in the Children’s Wood and Meadow is a fantastic source of inspiration for the arts. Using the imagination invoked by the wildlife, wealth of colour and natural materials that surround our young people, it enables them to stretch their imagination in the best environment for their health and well being. It encourages them to become knowledgeable in using natural materials as opposed to plastics and man made resources.
Meet Stacey –
The Woods and Meadow is a truly magical place! It’s a space were you can totally switch off from the digital world and find nature and play again. It’s great to see the amazing effect this has on the young people that come to the club. It’s a place where they are totally free to play, create, laugh, cook and most importantly learn.
Meet Owen –
We’d like to say a special thanks to others who helped with the development of the G20 Youth Festival. These include (though not exclusive) Daniel McCormack, Lesley Scullion, Samantha MacGregor, Emma Fowler, David Galbraith, John and Winnie McCann, Anne Craig, Laura Harrison, Simone Murray, Eilidh Camerson, Margaret Mitchel, Pat Byrne, Susie Marshall, Rachel Carmen Simpson, Liv Glatt, Peri McMillan and Forest School worker Joni Mackay.