Around 30 people from different parts of the East End of Glasgow came along to our first meeting in Parkhead Library in late May 2014. Together with a number of others who could not attend but are keen to be active partners in this research project, we have already been struck by the feelings and voices that are being expressed about the impact of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games on different areas in the East End and on the people who live therein. There are, understandably, strong opinions and views, and differences in outlook and perspective also and it was good that these different views where articulated at our first meeting. There was a clear sense of hope from those attending the meeting that East End will have a legacy, but on the other side it has had a real impact so far in disrupting people’s day to day lives.
There was a strong sense that despite all the talk about involving the local community in the Games, people were not being made to feel part of the event. Promises made by organisers and politicians in the past have either not been borne out in practice, or have been somewhat diluted. Beyond this, few could have predicted that in addition to the periodic disruption of water and electricity supplies, together with the demolition of the few shops that were remaining in the once more populated and busy Dalmarnock area, meaning that local amenities were now few and far between.
A strong sense of grievance was articulated at the meeting – and perhaps even of resentment. But these were couched more in terms of questions: why are local people being marginalised – almost ‘kept-away’ from the Games? As one participant put it:
“At the moment, we feel like the game organisers want to keep local people away from the people coming to see the games. With all the fences around the buildings”
(Photo sent in from one of our particpants. These are the security barriers at the end of Sorn street at Springfield Road)
Dalmarnock will host the athletes’ village and adjacent Parkhead is the location for the opening ceremony at Celtic Park, sitting alongside the newly built velodrome and indoor games arena. But the ordinary people of Dalmarnock, Parkhead and the wider East End are being made to feel that while this will happen in their districts – they are not part of it. Most importantly: how will Glasgow look after the Games? At the end of the Games – what happens to these areas?
“It’s about renewing the community spirit of Glasgow. But not letting it disappear – it’s how we harness it”
Building a different sense of community on the back of such grievances and feelings of being excluded offers another vision of what might be possible in the East End. It was notable at the meeting that many of those attending argued strongly that there is much that is good taking place in the area – lots of positive stories and examples of people coming together to campaign for things and to celebrate different facets of life in this part of Glasgow. This is the East End that participants want visitors to see. We hope to capture much more of these throughout the project.
Gerry, Vikki and Kirsteen