New article inspired by our experiences doing the Beyond Stigma research!

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Do they really think we are that gullible? Participant Blog

The latest panic measure having a Westminster opposition back bencher promise a timetable for as yet undecided powers after the postal votes have closed was only trumped in terms of nonsense by having saltires flown over council buildings in England and has surely confirmed to any undecided Scots that Better Together has failed and the powers that be in London have decided to take over.

Whats more the three posh boys have rushed north, not together we note, to speak to invited audiences only, in secure locations. Meantime bruiser Lord “Two Jags” Prescott steals Jimmy Murphy’s soap box and, after ranting against his Better Together colleagues the Tories, tells the crowd Scotland and England should have a joint football team to beat the Germans.

Its hard to conceive a more ludicrous or flawed approach to trying to stem the “Yes” tide. Do they ( ie the Westminster elite ) really, honestly believe that the actions of today and yesterday had the capacity to influence Scotland in a positive manner. ?

Of course all good circuses end with the clowns and on Friday we have Farage and his racist UKIP in Glasgow and then on Saturday musical entertainment on the streets of the capital courtesy of the Orange Order.

More seriously the BBC and to a lessor extent Sky appear to be on a war like propaganda footing against “Yes” and backing “No” while big business and the bankers drip feed a frenzy of fear and doom and gloom if it’s a “Yes”.

You can find some unbiased comment if you search hard enough, eg the Financial Times carried an informative article on the currency issue with four economists giving what seemed to me to be sensible arguments.

However as everybody else is having their say, here’s mine.

Scotland should vote yes to protect itself from the worst excesses of the increasingly right wing agenda that is manifesting in English politics. It could then pursue a more egalitarian and socially just society. It has the natural resources, industry, infrastructure, and crucially people to be a successful independent country. Of course initially there may be some short lived economic turbulence. However the short to medium term will see that pass and then the country prosper both economically and socially.

And hey, maybe one day we will have that utopia… A Scottish socialist republic.

Blog entry by Neil, project participant living and working in the East End of Glasgow


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“It’s all become a bit of a farce” – Beyond Stigma participant blog

It’s all become a bit of a farce – you couldn’t have sold a book about the way the storyline has panned out. The No side, clearly believing that Scots would reject outright the possibility of Independence, disabled the issue of a referendum on Devo-max as it came to be known, which in all likelihood is what the SNP were probably after too, on the basis of small steps would eventually get there to full Independence over a longer term, now the No side are now falling over themselves to offer various forms of it, that they wouldn’t let us vote for (which most would have gone for anyway).

Scotlands future image

Image from Scottish Government’s (2013) guide to an Independent Scotland

However, many have started to consider / realised that the Westminister model is remote, self-serving and most definitely out of touch – expenses scandals, inappropriate conduct swept under the carpet etc., etc, and so far, Government from Edinburgh has been mostly successful and not just a big County Council as many detractors thought/ hoped for?

It’s also becoming more clear to folk that the people from Westminster who are telling us how bad it will be come independence are not being entirely accurate about things – for example, we in all probability won’t be part of the EU by 2020 if UKIP continues to drive Tory & Labour policy, The oil to run an independent Scotland will run out anytime next week or in 50yrs depending on which paper you read, but then it’ll run out for the UK too, so what are the alternatives then – oil revenue to the Treasury has pretty much funded the UK since the 70’s, and is probably the only thing allowing us to afford keep nuclear weapons – in my opinion spending money on these things where Official numbers say 1 in 5 kids live in poverty and a considerable number of people need to access ‘food banks’ is quite obscene, irrespective of my political viewpoint.

20140528_140242Image sent in by Horace, a project participant living in Bridgeton

In many respects the debate being had is a good thing – for many people it’s the first engagement in political thinking for generations – particularly in the West of Scotland where the tradition of voting for a particular party irrespective of policies or quality of the individual candidate is ‘the norm’.

David, project participant living in Baillieston

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Reflections on Parkhead Research Focus Meeting, 21/8

On Thursday August 21st a number of our research participants attended our latest focus group meeting in Parkhead Library in the East End of Glasgow. This was the first meeting since the Commonwealth Games and provided a good opportunity for us all to hear and share out experiences and views of the Games – and their impact on the East End and on Glasgow more widely.
Together with the many research diary entries that we have received thus far, it is clear that the Glasgow Commonwealth Games have provoked very different experiences for individuals, for different groups of people and for different parts of Glasgow. For some of our research participants, the Games were a rare opportunity for Glasgow to be shown to a global audience in a new light – challenging some of the age-old and enduring legacies of the city as run down place of deprivation, disadvantage, despair and delinquency. Some of those attending the meeting and contributing to our Beyond Stigma research project through email and frequent diary entries had other views – notably that the East End and many of the people within it felt ‘excluded’ from the Games – and thought that it has ‘passed them by’. ‘It wasn’t for the likes of us’ was one comment.
As might be expected, there were other views that while also sceptical about the longer term legacy of the Games, nonetheless felt that the event was generally positive and while short-lived – would have positive effects in the future.
All agreed that within a few weeks since the end of the Games, perhaps it is too soon for anything concrete to emerge. Some concerns were raised that the Athletes’ Village will not be available for social housing for another two years while others commented that the East End was still facing some degree of disruption, with road closures and the like.

We are delighted with the contributions made by our research members and look forward to seeing all their diaries in due course.

Thanks to everyone who attended and to others unable to attend who have sent us some valuable contributions.

Gerry, Kirsteen and Vikki

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Looking forward to Tonight!

Together with Kirsteen and Vikki, I’m looking forward to tonight’s focus group meeting in Parkhead Library. This is the first meeting we have had since the end of the CW Games a few weeks ago so we are all looking forward to hearing the thoughts and views of our participants  as to how the Games went from their perspective – the good, the bad and maybe even the ugly!!

Until tonight,



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Behind the fence: the side of Glasgow games you’re not meant to see

Hi everyone,

This piece of writing outlines some themes from some of the initial findings within the Beyond Stigma project. The securitisation of the East End was at the forefront of a lot of East Enders minds in June and July.

Please have a read and join the conversation:

We are still capturing participants’ experiences now through the Games and and afterwards.

Thanks again for all the help and support of those who live and work in the East End of Glasgow.

Best wishes,
Gerry, Vikki and Kirsteen

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The Real Glasgow?

Hi friends,

Well, agree or disagree? Please do add a comment or two below my wee piece. Anything else you think I should have added? The piece that appears is a much reduced erosion of what was submitted…..just as well you might say!

Pass on to your family, colleagues and friends too!

Host City Glasgow: 10 things the tourist guides probably never mentioned:



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Any thoughts on this link?

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The History of Our Secret Streets

Dear Friends,

Starting this Friday, July 25th, the second series of The History of Our Secret Streets is launched on BBC2, to tie in with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Three streets feature: Moray Place in Edinburgh, Footdee (Fitty!) in Aberdeen, and Duke Street in the East End of Glasgow – and this is the order of transmission too.

The broadcast dates are Friday 25th July, Friday 1st August and then the final transmission date is not yet confirmed but we think it will be earlier than the Friday, but certainly sometime during the week of the 4th August.

In addition to the TV programmes, we have produced an accompanying hard copy print item – The Street newspaper. Hard copies of these can be ordered from the OU at the link below and this is also reproduced on OpenLearn and is now available at:

(I will try and bring along some copies to future focus group meetings).

I hope that you will publicise the series among your friends, neighbours and colleagues.

I would also be pleased to hear your thoughts on the series.

Cheers and enjoy!


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One month in… Some thoughts from the Beyond Stigma project

It has been a very quick month and an excellent start to the Beyond Stigma project that is currently exploring the lives of people living and working in the East End of Glasgow. The research team have been overwhelmed by the support and interest that people have taken in the project.

One of the aims of the project has been to explore the everyday challenges that people have in their lives. These challenges have come in different forms within the diaries – from taking family members with dementia on holiday, having to use food banks to road closures stopping people getting to work. However, despite these challenges there have also been very positive experiences being discussed in the dairies such as receiving volunteer training and uniforms for the Commonwealth Games, to helping plan community events and attending mural openings.

What is striking is that these experiences are the complete opposite to outside perceptions of life in the East End of Glasgow. No diary participant has shown any connection to ideas such as the ‘Shettleston Man’ that personifies ‘Glasgow’s ills’. In an RTO meeting in Helenslea Community Centre, this idea of being judged and internalising negative discourses was discussed. Councillor’s George Redmond and Frank MacAveety were in attendance and noted that being from the East End, and then being seen as a success, could also lead to negative connotations and judgements from others. They noted that accepting these negative labels such as the ‘Shettleston Man’ had been a mistake.

The reality behind this area-based stigma is something completely different. Crazy Horse*, one of our participants who was also attending the meeting, emphasised that the family make-up of those living in the area is very far from outside negative assumptions. Efforts were made by her and her family to ‘get-on’ in life, and their children are not only successful but ‘brought-up right’. Peter*, another participant in attendance, went so far as to say these assumptions make him angry as someone who has dedicate a lot of time to his community. The result of which can lead to a ‘reverse snobbery’, where your actions emphasise the negative aspects of the area in order to take ownership of that discourse. All in the meeting agreed that these discourses have to be challenged and when possible rejected.

So these are some of the thoughts and discussions that have been taking place in the first month of the project, but watch this space as we enter July and the Games begin!

Blog by Vikki, project coordinator.

*This is a pseudonym

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