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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Beyond Stigma, Beyond Apathy

As part of the research we want to represent the diversity of the East End so are keen to have people involved from each of the neighbourhoods. We didn’t have anyone involved from Easterhouse yet so we paid a visit to the Shandwick shopping centre to see if we could remedy that. This shopping centre was lamented as having:

 “A sense of despair [that] pervades thousands of residents, half of whom live in social housing . . . The Sandwick Square shopping centre in Easterhouse epitomises a lot of what has gone wrong with Labour’s great post-war social experiment – the area’s sprawling mass of council estates. A sad collection of shops – Pound Saver, a pawnbroker, a bookmaker, Farm Foods”

(Johnson, 2008 in Mooney, 2009).

Shandwick Square if oft cited in media articles when painting a dreary and negative picture of Easterhouse. Symbolic of depressed economy servicing the flawed consumer rather than the glossy shopping meccas lauded as regeneration. Added to this grim imagery, Gerry Hassan referred to Easterhouse “a political apathy hotspot”.

Vikki and I experienced a different reality, as I’m sure many other Easterhouse residents also do. We only had an hour and half in the Shandwick and in that time we had a coffee, went to the beautician, the butchers, the bakers (for supplies of lorne sausage and empire biscuits which I can’t get south of the border) and I had a zip mended at the alternation shop. While doing this we spoke to lots of people and they had plenty to say about their neighbourhood and the Games. There was a fever to people’s chat when we told them about the research. They wanted to talk about the Games, their neighbourhood, it’s future.


There was hopefulness. It was tentative but definite. Local business owners, workers, shoppers welcome the Games and the people it will bring to the East End. Easterhouse residents were rallying for the Games. One guy we spoke to said he felt proud of Glasgow and the East End but the area was under chronic economic pressure. He hoped this could be lifted by the Games.

So the folk of Easterhouse may be rallying for the Games but who is rallying for them? There was a clear disconnection between this public effort and their personal lives. It was clear it was affecting their personal lives directly. One woman told us she could no longer go to her Zumba class. Local road closures which support the Games mean that she can’t access her weekly fitness class at her local community centre as the bus she takes there can’t follow same route. It could seem a minor issue but the pressure on individuals to take responsibility for their own health is not only a message from the Games ‘legacy’ but part of wider policy discourses. I would guess she was in early 50s so is part of that targeted demographic for health messages. And she’s keeping fit while also having a social life and involvement in her local community life.

Local places matter to local people. This is far from being apathetic. Yet it seems like they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

Blog by Kirsteen Paton


Hope & Hardship in the East End: Some thoughts from the first project meeting

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


Road closures

The project has begun to gain momentum after a very successful meeting on the 29th May.  The discussions were interesting and wide-ranging.

One topic that came up again and again are the impact of road closures.  To start us off, here is a diary entry from Horace, to lives in Bridgeton, that captures the frustration that ongoing closures are having on residents:


Just spent 17 minutes trying to find a way in to Dalmarnock. After following diversion signs twice because I thought I was stupid, I asked police who were in surveillance van, to be told ” I haven’t a clue ” but there’s cars in there so there must be a way.


Asked guy with high visibility jacket and safety helmet ( no ID badge by the way) he directed me to a new slip road they have made for entry. I said to him but there’s no right turn signs there, he said ” don’t worry about that”

Unbelievably frustrating.

Horace*, from Bridgeton

*All names are pseudonyms to protect participants



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Poverty and the Scottish Independence Debate

Poverty and the Scottish Independence Debate

This is a link to Gerry’s latest article on poverty, austerity and the Scottish Independence debate in the May/June 2014 issue of the Scottish Left Review

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