Posted on 25/3/2015
South Seeds interviewed 60 residents, plus local refuse collectors, environmental health officials, community groups and private landlords, and published its research as a free community newspaper, the Govanhill Gazette, which is available at the Space, Govanhill Baths, the housing association, Meet n’ Eat and from the South Seeds office.
A lack of facilities and information appropriate to the Govanhill community were one of the study’s main findings, alongside instances of vermin and insect infestations, and overcrowding in private rented accommodation.
South Seeds’ researcher, Sue Reid Sexton, said: “When I started this project I thought it would be a straightforward case of both residents and the council not doing what they’re supposed to do, maybe a wee stand-off between them, a bit of extra rubbish lying about, and nothing too serious. I thought there would be obvious culprits and simple solutions. What I found was something far more complicated … and far more dangerous to residents and community health.
“But I also heard tales of heroism, and that the gang of kids people said they had spotted wrecking the area were often the same kids who meticulously cleared it up at the start of South Seeds’ community gardening sessions.
“I was struck time and again by the lack of communication – systems either didn’t exist, or they didn’t work. As one ex-cleansing worker told me: ‘The system can’t cope. It’s falling on its knees.’”
Jim Monaghan, chair of the Govanhill Community Council, said: “People in Govanhill have waste and mess at the top of their agenda right now and it’s great to see those concerns reflected alongside solutions and information. I particularly like the quotes from local people about their concerns. The fact that these concerns are presented alongside the good work that South Seeds is doing is a very good idea. Often people don’t know how to address problems like this, where to go for help, what they can do themselves and how things can be improved.”
Monaghan, who is also administrator of the Govanhill Baths Community Trust, added: “At the community council we hear these concerns expressed constantly, often by people frustrated at the lack of information about what can be done and/or how things can get done. I will be taking a copy of South Seeds’ research to the next council meeting.”
Councillor Mhairi Hunter said “It’s good to see a continuing focus on improving the environment in Govanhill. I welcome anything that reinforces the importance of keeping Govanhill clean and safe. Many Govanhill residents work hard to keep their back courts in a good condition – including in the block featured – and it’s sad to see a minority continuing to abuse the lanes and back courts. Anything that helps us to understand how we can tackle this behaviour is very helpful.”
South Seeds’ research was first published a week ahead of a march organised to “air Govanhill’s dirty washing in public” in relation to waste and refuse issues. Mary Wright, one of the march organisers, said: “The paper is a good wee read, very well written and we would like to see more published about residents’ experiences in the future.”
Councillor Soryia Saddique, said “Govanhill is a diverse and proud community. There is recognition of the challenges in the area which is being supported by additional resources including a multimillion housing acquisition programme. I would support a national recognition of the Issues facing Govanhill and call for a working group including Scottish Government, service providers, Police, local housing association and third sector with an action plan to improve the environment, safety, up skilling and create jobs.”