Life is tough and challenging for many people in the Govan area, with high levels of unemployment and deprivation. People need to work towards trying to resolve the sometimes compounding problems that affect them – rather than become cynical. A strong social base which involves various community groups, and scientists from the University providing input, helps to support people in dealing with bigger problems and help to avoid cynicism.
Summary of activity:
Worked with a community activist project called the Common Good Awareness project, http://www.inthecommongood.org to take part in an annual gathering, the Govan Reshuffle at the Pearce Institute, and added a second annual event, the Govan Science Shuffle in 2009.
The events involve masses of hands on science and art activities. The role of the Science Festival is to provide and nurture the science content at these events. The organisation of the actual event is shared by community members. Example activities include: teaching young people to solder electrical circuits, building robots and building things out of cardboard. The Reshuffle covers subjects from science to bread making, running a café, video and film-making, photography, wildlife protection, gardening and healthy eating. The Reshuffle participants prepare food from the local community garden and there is bread made on site that the kids have made themselves.
The event in January 2011 covers Climate Change and Food Security, Health and Green Spaces (wildlife science, plant science, healthy eating, gardening, green space and mental health). There will be informal chats and some more structured ‘Meet the Scientist’ sessions and table top activities. The community activist groups have a very strong interest in these issues, for example they campaign to protect some local community gardens from development, they also campaign to stop commercial projects infringing into Glasgow parks.
A concurrent series of ‘campaigning’ workshops is run by the community organisers. The outcomes of these events are of enormous benefit in strengthening the local community. One of the major problems in our communities is isolation. Lots of community events also work in isolation and The Reshuffle links us all together.
The main evaluation comes from the general buzz of the day and loads and loads of great comments from our comments board.
What went well:
These events reach the 'hard to reach' demographics that Government projects say they want to reach - areas that are high on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. However, some of the players are highly vocal in their criticisms of Government and these events have plenty of opportunities for lively ‘political’ debate. These communities are at the sharp end of social and economic problems - it’s not ‘party politics’, and it is easy to focus on the constructive things that can be done.
The Common Good community workshops explore how people’s interests connect up and have much in common. How do we work together as a team? The event incorporates as much cultural integration as possible and we aim to highlight the wealth of culture that asylum and emigration brings to our localities.
While most of this project is based on enjoyment and fun it also has to be emphasised a main theme of what the Govan Reshuffle and the Common Good are trying to do is help to strengthen the social base of our Govan communities.
What was learned:
This year due to the interest at our last two events in Jan 2010 and May 2010, we have decided to extend the activities over two days to allow more activity. We wish to create a community 'Product' from the activities on the second day and with the introduction of music and performance. The Science Festival will work with the community groups, through the Common Good Awareness Project, to link STEM researchers and community across the whole programme.
Top tips and advice for others
It’s important to identify an appropriate role. It’s too easy to reinvent
wheels and to tread on toes, rather than finding community partners and
building on their work in a manner in which they welcome.
In public health communication, it’s important to be as ‘non-preachy’ as possible