Please see our lastest newletter November 2019
We’re looking for a new Treasurer to join our dedicated team. Please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 07762029663 to find out more.
We’re looking for a Treasurer to join our dedicated team. The Children’s Wood is a community led charity based at the Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow, Maryhill. We work with the whole community to involve people in outdoor learning, play, gardening, land maintenance, community events and activities. Our aim is to secure the land from any future threat of housing and to tackle modern issues facing our community such as poverty, inequality and indoor lifestyles by getting people outside into urban greenspace.
As Treasurer you’ll be responsible for maintaining an overview of the charity’s financial affairs, and ensuring proper financial records and procedures are in place and maintained. You’ll work closely with the Director. You’ll also sit on our Board of Trustees, sharing responsibility for the charity’s strategic direction, ensuring sound governance and staying true to charitable objectives.
We really want our Board to represent our community. We’d love to hear from all ages and backgrounds relating to this role. Though this is not a paid position, you will have the opportunity to make a difference a real difference within the local community.
We follow The Scottish Outdoor Access Code when using and managing the land, doing this ensures that we are protecting the environment and people are safe and welcome. Many people use the land and we rely on volunteers and community members to also follow these rules. If you are using the land please can you have a look at the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Together we can all enjoy and look after this beautiful wild place.
The importance of Diversionary Activities for Young People
Since 2005 Glasgow’s violence levels have plummeted. This is thanks to the work of the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). John Carnochan was one of the founders of the unit and in his Postcards from Scotland book – Conviction- he sets out what they did. For example, they took a public health perspective on violence and gangs, and made the problem the responsibility of lots of agencies, not just the police. They interacted with young people in gangs and provided alternative activities. The approach they instigated has led to a reduction in violent behaviour, including knife carrying, across Scotland.
Since the VRU started in Glasgow it has had most impact here and Glasgow rightly has become a model of good practice across the world. However, despite the VRU’s undeniable success in reducing Glasgow’s violence, the problem is far from fixed. I live in Maryhill and we have recently seen a rise in gang related activity and violence. So too have other local areas such as Lambhill, Possil and Cadder. Police Scotland describes the area on Maryhill Road as a MATAC – a Multi Agency Tasking and Coordinating spot. What this means is that it is a small geographical hotspot for violence. The police are now focusing their efforts to reduce crime there.
In our community there are some great initiatives for young people, but very little for teenagers involved in street gangs.
Established indoor clubs often don’t work for these young people anyway. This is because their behaviour is often seen as unacceptable: lots of swearing, play fighting, and graffiti, for example. They often don’t mix well with other groups of young people because they feel judged by those more in control of their emotions and behaviour. We know from our discussions with young people that many of them have multiple ACEs (adverse childhood experiences).
These children and young people are often unable to benefit from mainstream schooling. It’s pretty well impossible for teachers to handle such a wide range of needs and abilities in a single classroom. In many cases the young people’s challenging, anti-social behaviour leads to suspension or exclusion from school. This exacerbates the young people’s challenges, reducing the chance of developing the soft skills they need to integrate with mainstream activities, and potentially putting them at risk of being back in a vulnerable home or out on the street. They then fall further behind developmentally and this can be disastrous for their future lives.
Even out in the community our young people are facing barriers. They are often banned from various shops and other places they might congregate because of the number in their group and the way they behave. They are also at risk of taking dangerous drugs and misusing alcohol.
We keep hearing people saying of these youngsters involved in street gangs, ‘It’s their own fault’. But how would your own child fare if he or she was in their shoes and had to contend with some, or all, of the following? – little to no parental support emotionally or physically; exposure to various forms of implicit or explicit violence; extreme poverty; no money for out-of-school activities or personal transport to get there at night; exposure to casual substance abuse, and a local community, or school, which fails to provide support. Many have to overcome barriers that are more horrendous than most of us could imagine. How would you have fared between the age of nine and fifteen in these circumstances?
Yes, there are exceptions – those who excel in spite of extremely challenging circumstances. Others manage, despite difficult circumstances to create a reasonable life for themselves but too many struggle and never manage to turn their lives around.
In our area we can see that many of our most vulnerable young people are getting caught up in gang related behaviour and spiralling out of control. We believe that to stop this happening we need to involve them in diversionary activities. We also believe that the reason for their antisocial behaviour is not the young person’s fault but the result of inequality and poverty which is stressing their parents and leaving the young people with nothing to do and no money for hobbies and activities.
The problem is I cannot see this situation getting any better unless something radical happens. Young people need something to have control over, to hope for and to believe in. They need others to believe in them too. They need a place they can go to where people ask them: ‘What do you need?’ ‘What do you hope for?’ and ‘What do you enjoy? They need communities who are supportive. A lot of this is about developing trusting relationships.
This is what we The Children’s Wood has been trying to do in our own community through our G20 Festival. We have been working with a gang of young people for the last year and taking a bottom up/grassroots approach to finding out who they are, what do they need to flourish and how can we best support them. Thanks to funding from Glasgow City Council’s Hunger Fund and other funding, I believe we have created something quite special. We now have a team of amazing youth workers and a supportive community. Our numbers are increasing and other ‘gangs’ from different areas are coming to seek us out. I believe this is because they want something positive in their lives – something that engages with who they are now and what matters to them.
G20 Youth workers
When I wrote The Dear Wild Place I talked about the positive power of accessing local wild space for the mental and physical health of our young people, and I also talked about having access to a supportive community and how this can play a vital role in tackling gang related activity and for inclusion. We have been collaborating with other community partners like Police Scotland, schools and our local McDonalds restaurant. Recently McDonalds told us how the young people have gone from causing mayhem in the shop to now diffusing fights and playing a positive role within the community. McDonalds have been developing positive relationships with many of the young people and their families. This has happened through us all working together as a community and we are collectively making a difference.
We have a long way to go. While it has been hugely motivating and supportive for our young people to get support from Glasgow City Council, other groups and services need to do more for young people both locally and nationally. This has to be a priority since failing to do so will not only impact on the young person’s life but also the communities in which they live. This is everyone’s issue. Young people deserve more than their current lot. They deserve a better future.
Come and join local community members to make a difference to the garden and the land. Experienced gardener Christine will be on the land all day with lots of gardening jobs needing done. 10-4pm on Saturday 18th May
Wild about Waste in the Wood
There are various different forms of composting and waste recycling on the land. Join one of Nikki’s workshops to find out what can be composted and how you can get involved in the process.
11am-12pm worm farming
3pm-4pm dog poo wormery
when – 2nd March 11-2pm
where – Community Garden on North Kelvin Meadow
Come and join the community in supporting the development and biodiversity of the land. Seeds and plants will survive in the land much better after being cultivated at home first.
Collect seeds from us, plant them in a small pot and take them home to grow. After a few weeks you can bring them back to the land to plant.
Together we can do more for the land including increasing biodiversity, supporting the wild aspect of the land and also creating more colour throughout the year.
Everyone is welcome
The Children’s Wood and Upstart Glasgow Network are delighted to host a day with Kathryn Solly- Specialist Early Years Speaker, Consultant,Trainer and Author.
Following Kathryn’s keynote address we will enjoy workshops including Kathryn leading on “Space, open ended resources and objects outdoors”. Lunch will be cooked on the fire. This event is for early years practitioners and teachers up to P1/2.
More about Kathryn
Kathryn is now a specialist Early Years trainer and consultant working around Britain and internationally. Previously she was the Headteacher of the historic and diverse Chelsea Open Air Nursery School and Children’s Centre for nearly 17 years. However, Kathryn started her pedagogic life as a secondary school teacher on Voluntary Service Overseas in Papua New Guinea for two years. Since then she has taught across all the phases of education in a variety of places including a short time in an Albanian kindergarten. She retrained to teach in the early years and has since achieved a special needs qualification and an M.A. in Early Education and Care.She has travelled widely and studied education and care in Italy, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Aust
Kathryn was awarded the Unilever Fellowship researching aspects of Early Years Leadership and Management in 2006. She has contributed articles to several journals and books on a variety of aspects of young children’s play, teaching and learning. Her first book ‘Adventure, Risk and Challenge in the Early Years’ was published in December 2014. She is an experienced and passionate public speaker, trainer and consultant at home and abroad. She is a Froebel Travelling Tutor, and is Vice Chair of the Early Childhood Forum.
In The Dear Wild Place local campaigner Emily Cutts recounts her community’s successful David and Goliath struggle against housing development in Glasgow’s North Kelvin Meadow, also known as ‘the Children’s Wood’. Emily talks about the importance of green space for physical and mental health. She explains why getting children outdoors is crucially important for their well-being and outlines the innovative projects at the heart of the Children’s Wood campaign.
In conversation with Carol Craig, series editor for Postcards from Scotland, Emily also reveals how her campaign group galvanised their community to challenge the rampant materialism of modern life.
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 has inspired our very own youth based programme: the G20 Youth Festival. We owe a huge thanks to Eva for her role in this.
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 the young people. The MITT 127 model could work for our community. However, though it was clear this type of idea could work in Maryhill, for various reasons, it wasn’t until Spring/Summer 2018 that anything happened with this idea.
The reason it wasn’t until 2018 that a youth programme was initiated is because suddenly there was an urgent need to work with 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 long story short, we now have a fantastic youth based festival: G20 Youth Festival. It is composed of many different young people who are responding well to our outdoor Forest School based activities. We also work during the day through the schools with some of our young people. We meet three times a week cooking and eating food over an open fire together. One of the nights we take the young people to a club locally (although from now until February we will be based primarily indoors for all of our sessions – in the Maryhill Community Centre – so that we can plan ahead and create art work)
The reason we have something sustainable is also down to us receiving Glasgow City Council’s Summer Hunger Fund and the North West Integrated Grant fund from Glasgow City Council as well as small pots of holiday funding. This allows us to work with young people during the holidays, working outdoors and taking them away to do activities like fishing, parkour and dance. My dream is that by next summer 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, and this has continued. They came by a few weeks ago, when we were planting trees with volunteers from Scottish Water, and gave us this positive feedback. Local policeman Stevie, even planted a tree.
The success of the G20 Youth Festival is down to the amazing work from our youth workers. 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 Lesley, our lead youth worker
Hi I’m Lesley, I enjoy working outdoors and experiential learning. The Woods gives me that opportunity. I also enjoy watching young people grow into themselves and progress through their own learning. P.s. I am also a big kid myself so that helps.
Hi I’m Daniel, 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 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.
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) Samantha MacGregor, Laura Harrison, Simone Murray, Susie Marshall, Rachel Carmen Simpson, Liv Glatt, Peri McMillan and Forest School worker Joni Mackay.