Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Walking the streets

Last night was the ambulance shift, tonight was a shift with Govanhill Youth Project. They've an interesting approach in that they don't wait for young people to come to them but go out on the streets and talk to them as they hang around on street corners.
Govanhill is fairly unique in that it's always been a multi cultural area but moreso now that there are a number of residents from Eastern Europe.
We met a few young folk from Slovakia tonight. There was perhaps a dozen of them hangin around chatting, laughing and I asked if they had any Scottish friends. They said no, they only want to fight them. GYP has targetted the Roma community and has a number of other projects with them eg a music project on a Monday night (tried to get an audition as backing singer but they didn't seem too keen - must be the language barrier!) but they're aware that the next step is to get the various groups together.
To do that they need somewhere for people to meet and so far, they've been unsuccessful. But it won't just benefit young people to get rooms, it will benefit the entire community. As we chatted to the various groups of young people I was very very aware of the noise we were creating. They stand in groups of maybe a dozen, outside people's flats talking loudly, leaning on cars - doing absolutely no real harm to be honest but would you want it outside your window?
I know that after a long day at work, there's nothing I like more than to come home, put my feet up and relax in the peace of my own home. For the residents of Govanhill tonight, that would have been impossible. I could see why some people might feel intimidated but I can assure you I have no doubt these young folk were no threat to anyone, they're just loud. And I can understand how it would drive you mad having that noise outside your home but again, they were behaving normally and they've nowhere else to go.
As one of the youth workers pointed out to me when I questioned why they would want to stand in the pouring rain, many of them are living three families to one flat so being outside in whatever the weather, is often the better option.
Finding premises so that young folk have somewhere to go that isn't bothering other residents, and where they can mix with other "groups" within their community, is a priority to Govanhill Youth Project and I'll certainly be looking at how I can assist them with that. In the meantime I would just congratulate the guys who work on the project. In the photo you can see Jamie, Damien and Rowan - not sure why they're all laughing at me in the photo, probably cos I'm the only one with a brolly, wimp that I am!!. They all believe young people get a bit of a raw deal from the general public, the press and politicians and work tirelessly to turn around people's attitudes. I'll be seeing them again soon and looking forward to finding out a bit more.

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