Campaigners finally guarantee the land will remain in community control
After a long period of uncertainty to protect the Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow, lasting around 25 years and including three public hearings, many protests and site visits, the land has finally been secured from any threat of development.
The popular community site is run by a local charity who applied for a community asset transfer in 2019. The asset transfer is a legal right for communities across Scotland through the Community Empowerment Act. The Children’s Wood applied through the asset transfer process and were awarded a long-term lease of 25 years.
However, there was a last minute attempt by Glasgow City Council to insert a clause allowing them to take back an undefined part of the land at any point for ‘educational purposes’ – leading campaigners to fear that the site could be built on in future. This would have undermined the community empowerment process.
The group attended the online public hearing on the 26thof October with the support of local teachers, climate campaigners, play specialists and local residents. After deliberation, the council announced today (28thOctober) that they have withdrawn the clause and now fully support a 25 year asset transfer. This means that finally the community can be free of any uncertainty and know that they will have community control over the land for at least the next 25 years – ensuring that the children who play there today will be able to bring their own children there one day.
Professor Niamh Stack, Chair of The Children’s Wood and local resident, said:
“In a time when everything is at sea, community anchors like that which The Children’s Wood provides are ever more essential. This decision by GCC is a true articulation of the intent of the Community Empowerment Act. The Children’s Wood is so much more than just a physical space: it is a hub of community actions that can now be determined by, and for, that community.
Emily Cutts, of The Children’s Wood and local resident, added:
“I feel proud of Glasgow City Council and the particular councillors who voted to support The Children’s Wood Asset Transfer
“The Children’s Wood has demonstrated what a community can do when it works together on a shared vision. We are lucky to have The Community Empowerment Bill here in Scotland and we couldn’t have achieved this result without it, nor indeed without the willingness of Glasgow City Council to back our community by supporting the transfer.
The land, and what happens on it, is a model for how we can create sustainable, playful and resilient communities. Given the year we have all had, we needed this news now more than ever and it takes a large weight off our community.
I hope our historic agreement with the council inspires others to create and support outdoor community spaces for all to use, particularly with children in mind. When children are at the heart of a project it brings everyone together”
Marguerite Hunter Blair, CEO of Play Scotland who campaign for the importance of quality free play, said:
“This is a ‘pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’ moment for everyone in the community who uses and supports the Children’s Wood. We are delighted that Glasgow City Council has removed the restrictive clause and agreed the community asset transfer request made by the Children’s Wood. The simple test of more public benefit in community ownership has been met and this empowers the local community to realise its sustainable vision and aspirations. The evidence provided by the group in support of their asset transfer request was powerfully impressive.
“If this group had not succeeded in this positive climate of land reform, and place-based sustainable development, then I am not sure who could.”
Tam Dean Burn, Actor, and local resident
“It’s inspiring that Glasgow Council have recognised and endorsed the true value of this wonderful green space with this decision. I’m hugely excited at how the community self-empowerment that got us here can now further develop as a shining example to other areas of Glasgow and beyond in desperate need of such grassroots sanctuaries.”
contact 07762029663 for more details
The Public Hearing for the asset transfer request made by The Children’s Wood was on Monday 26th October, 10am 2020. The Public Hearing was requested by The Children’s Wood in relation to their Asset Transfer application for a 25 years lease for The Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow. The council have offered the Children’s Wood a 25 year lease for The Children’s Wood and Meadow. The Children’s wood are delighted to accept the Asset Transfer offer, however they could not accept the clause added by the council. The clause would allow the council to take back an undefined part of the land for educational purposes with only 12 months notice. The Children’s Wood believe this is not an offer of Community Empowerment since there would still be uncertainty over the land and therefore would provide no security to the local community. The Children’s Wood have asked the council to remove the clause. A decision will be made by Friday 30th October 2020. We’ll keep you posted
Below is part of the Children’s Wood statement made on 26th.
“What more can the local group do to show the council that this community wants empowerment. For 25 years the local community has fought to prevent building on the Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow, and have created inventive ways of using the land for valuable local community activities.
For the last nearly 10 years these have been combined with also showing an alternative use for the land i.e. The Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow; a space for all of the community aged 0-100. The Children’s Wood charity has proven that they can deliver high quality outdoor education and look after a much loved local greenspace for all local people to use. The Children’s Wood plan is not an idea or a concept, they are making community happen and have shown that this works. They employ well trained staff and volunteers and are seen as experts in the outdoor learning field and work with well over 20 local educational establishments many of whom are Glasgow City Council run. The Children’s Wood supports the curriculum for excellence.
Over the last 25 years the community in North Kelvinside/Maryhill have been through 2 public hearings in relation to retaining the site for the community, 10 years of Compendium Trust, and now why will the council not recognise that this community wants to be empowered. The Children’s Wood wants this clause removed
The past 25 years have been about community self-empowerment, they did it themselves. If this isn’t an exemplar for community empowerment then what is the point of community empowerment in Scotland? We can hardly see a better example, The Children’s Wood seems to be a model candidate.
The range of activities now supported by the local community include high quality educational services, mental health provision (prescribed by local GP’s) gardening and many other social and well-being functions.
So, The Children’s Wood put the Asset Transfer in, and The Council say they can have the Asset Transfer, BUT that they won’t have any control. Is this really community empowerment?
The Council cite all the planning regulations as a protector of the CW and local community rights, but this negates community empowerment. The whole point of this asset transfer is not to have battles again and again but to let the community be free of any threat to the land and to allow them to be truly empowered.
In summary, given the 25 years of continual action from the local community to keep the land, and the almost 10 years of continual community development from the Children’s Wood, are they not an ideal candidate for enacting the Community Empowerment Bill? If they can’t do it, then who can?”
Our young people from the G20 Youth Festival are organising a Meals on Wheels for the community. We’re running a project starting week beginning the 24th March 2020. Get in touch if you are local and live in the Wyndford community or close by and we’ll deliver cooked food to your door. We may be able to provide messages if people need additional help.
You can sponsor us through the Kiltwalk (31st March is the last day to sponsor us) The Kilt Walk
Children’s Wood Trustees Niamh Stack (Chair) and Sheila Penny collected our Highly Commended award from Gordon Buchanan at the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards, 4th December 2019. We were in the Community Initiative category. It was a lovely night out and there were many interesting and deserving projects from across Scotland. You can watch a short film about our project. Thanks to Marc Macallister for filming and editing the film.
Please see our lastest newletter November 2019
We’re looking for a new Treasurer to join our dedicated team. Please get in touch via email@example.com 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.