Tonight 23rd June 2019! In the Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow, Eglantine screens outdoors as part of the Glasgow West End Festival. Free, outdoors, powered by bicycle, popcorn available. Kid friendly. Bring blankets and provisions. Starts at 8.30 pm.
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.
Download a free augmented reality experience and use it in the Meadow and Wood
Following the success of performances of the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of The Reason I Jump at Glasgow’s Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow last summer, a free app for all ages, based on the production is being launched.
The Reason I Jump, based on the book by Naoki Higashida, translated by David Mitchell and Keiko Yoshida was a production conceived and directed by Graham Eatough and designed by Observatorium. It was an outdoor performance experienced within a maze and featuring a labyrinth created by the local community. The production was created with, and performed by, a group of Scottish artists with autism and was presented to critical acclaim in June 2018.
The free app offers an augmented reality experience for visitors to the Children’s Wood and North Kelvin Meadow who will be able to enjoy aspects of the The Reason I Jumpthrough a specially developed digital experience, walking through the maze in search of labyrinthine marker-points. Once located – and viewed through the app – the marker points transform the surrounding space, filling it with sights and sounds. App Users will experience pop-up digital performances from the show, as well as music, stories and creative expressions gathered through a series of workshops with local young people on the autistic spectrum from High Park Communications Unit and Abercorn School.
The whole project is a celebration of neurodiversity through storytelling
Over the past few years we have been working with the wider community to identify what species can be found on the Children’s Wood and Meadow. It is surprising how many creatures live on our Dear Wild Place. Our recorded collection is growing and this is all thanks to the RSPB and their Bioblitz tool. The RSPB will join us on the 1st of June 1-4pm for another Bioblitz. Come and join us
The RSPB have supported us with all sorts of activities from putting up house sparrow boxes, planting meadow plots and running Bioblitz sessions.
A Bioblitz is
an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period (e.g., usually 24 hours).
During our bioblitz periods we have trapped and identified moths, spotted different birds, found a range of flower and tree species and delved into a world of insects and bugs. Our land is host to a huge number of interesting and diverse species. Here are just a few we have spotted:
Two Spotted Ladybirds
Have a look at our growing species list which can be found on the Glasgow Natural History website
Our community dog show is back. Come and join Oliver Jackson from McDonald vets on Queen Margaret Drive, at our Community Dog Show on the 1st of June. Oliver will judge the dog show entries
To register your dog please email email@example.com
Artist film-maker Margaret Salmon will lead a workshop with 13 – 17 year olds teaching the foundations of 16mm nature film making. The workshop will cover basic analogue film-making techniques as well as various approaches to documenting wildlife and wild landscapes. No experience necessary but places are limited (weather permitting) Please book through firstname.lastname@example.org
RAIN DATE 23rd June
Outdoor Artists Film Screening: Eglantine
RAIN DATE 23rd JUNE 8:30pm-10:00pm
Wild Festival and Gala
It’s that time of year again when our community comes together for the West End Festival. There will be gardening and planting, Bioblitz of species with the RSPB (a recording process for identifying the species on the land, you can be part of this legacy), outdoor cooking, street play with Operation Play Outdoors and our infamous Dog Show (to take part in the dog show you can send in pictures under different categories to email@example.com – more information will be posted soon about this)
Waterstones Byres Road will join us to sell copies of our book The Dear Wild Place. The wonderful children’s theatre company Eco Drama will be on the land for their new performance about birds called Whirlybird.
Bring a neighbour, friend, picnic and join us to celebrate the first day of the West -end Festival. Remember, if you are joining us then please take all rubbish away and leave the land as good as you found it, or better.
If you are local and would like to volunteer or be part of the event please email us firstname.lastname@example.org
Date 1st June