An explosive launch to the Commonwealth Games has brought more fireworks with it.
The Red Road tower blocks in Sighthill will be demolished LIVE during the opening ceremony and seen by 1.5 billion people around the world. Those in Celtic Park, where the opening ceremony will take place, will see the blow-down on the enormous 100 metre-wide screen which will occupy the entire south stand.
Eileen Gallagher Chair of the Ceremonies, Culture and the Queen’s Baton Relay Committee: ‘By sharing the final moments of the Red Road flats with the world as part of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow is proving it is a city that is proud of its history but doesn’t stand still. Glasgow’s story is always one of its people; their tenacity, their genuine warmth, their ambitions. Marking the end of Red Road is very much a celebration of all of those things.’
Commented Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council: ‘The opening ceremony will be a ceremony like no other, showcasing our city’s unique style and personality and with our people and communities at its very heart. We are going to wow the world, with the demolition of the Red Road flats set to play a starring role. Their demolition will all but mark the end of high-rise living in the area and is symbolic of the changing face of Glasgow, not least in terms of our preparations for the Games.’
Gordon Sloan, Chairman of Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) said: ‘The Red Road flats were very popular in their day and hold a special place in many people’s hearts. But they are no longer viable as modern homes and GHA made the decision to demolish them as part of the wider regeneration of the North of Glasgow. We will bring them down in strictly controlled conditions with the expertise of our contractor Safedem, during the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.’
David Zolkwer, Head of Ceremonies & Artistic Director for Glasgow 2014 said: ‘By sharing the blow-down with the rest of the world, I hope it will be seen as the noble, respectful and celebratory send-off that it is intended to be.’
Shona Robison, Minister for the Commonwealth Games said: ‘This spectacular start to the Games within the opening ceremony will send a strong signal about the power of the Commonwealth Games. For many people, these Games are more than sport. They are the chance for regeneration, renewal and having better places to live and work.’
But Neil Baxter, secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, said: ‘It’s the oddest thing. They will knock down five blocks but leave one which houses asylum seekers. What does that say?’
The Red Road flats were ‘a place of despair’ and should never have been built, said Robina Qureshi, Director of the charity Positive Action in Housing (PAiH) ‘Through our work we have regularly visited refugee and asylum seeker families and seen the misery for everyone. This is where the Sehryk family committed suicide from the balcony of their 15th floor flat on the day they were to be made destitute by the UK Borders Agency. The windows all had so-called suicide prevention netting but they managed to tear it away. Those flats were not meant for human beings, they were just great big filing cabinets of humans living in misery or despair.
‘Before the demolition programme the Council tried to market them to university students, then professionals, but it didn’t work. No one wanted to stay there. And I guess that’s how the planners wanted it.
‘Then thousands of asylum seekers came in from war torn countries like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan in 2001 as part of a five year contract between the Council and the Home Office. They had no choice in housing. Red Road was one of the places where they were effectively dumped out of the way while Glasgow City Council collected the council tax payments and rent from Westminster.
‘What is ironic is that the Commonwealth Committee in Glasgow denied asylum seekers the right to volunteer for the games.’
She went on: ‘For the Olympic games, they light a torch. Here in Glasgow, they celebrate the start of the Commonwealth Games by blowing up the Red Road flats. It is highly insensitive and jars with the senses.
‘Sports men and women in the Commonwealth Games may well be claiming asylum here because of the threat of torture or denial of certain freedoms in their own countries. The Commonwealth Committee clearly thinks it’s a great idea to blow up the high flats but has no concept of the misery the Red Road flats caused to thousands of people from Glasgow and across the world. No change there then.’
A woman with ‘178 daughters’ was an honoured guest at the Bangladesh Independence Celebration in Glasgow on Sunday 30 March.
Professor Barbara Parfitt who set up and was first Principal of the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing told the happy, national, gathering: ‘I had four wonderful years in Bangladesh. Now I feel I have 178 daughters – the students who have worked so hard and graduated from the College. They will help reduce child mortality and maternal mortality.’
She was accompanied by four of the College’s graduates who are studying, now, for their B.Sc in Nursing Studies at Glasgow Caledonian University. (see photograph)
Aged 22, Popi Bhowmik was one of the four at the celebration evening. She told this website: ‘After three years of study I know I am a totally responsible person. I have the patient’s life in my hand. They depend on me. I am very proud to be a nurse.’ She admits she was scared delivering her first baby at 3am with no doctor around. ‘But the mother was happy and the baby boy was healthy so I was happy.’ Popi’s dream it to ‘learn more’ and ‘reach the top of nursing.’
The University, in partnership with the Grameen Healthcare Trust, established the College of Nursing in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, in 2010.
Led by Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate and Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University, the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing’s aim is to establish a nationally and internationally recognised institution for nursing and midwifery education in Bangladesh. Professor Parfitt was Professor and Dean of the School of Nursing and Midwifery and Community Health at Glasgow Caledonian University from 1995 till 2007 when she was appointed Director of the Caledonian Centre for Global Health. In that year she was also awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Honours List for services to international health development. She set up the College from scratch and became first Principal.
Two groups of young women have now graduated. ‘They are girls from poor backgrounds who are daughters of Grameen Bank borrowers,’ explained Professor Parfitt. ‘They borrow from the Bank and study for three years. Every one of the first group had offers of jobs before they finished their degree. They will pay back their loan over an agreed period as they earn. Without this education and training they would have married young, had children and continued in the cycle of poverty. But now they are able to break that cycle not only for themselves but also for the country while improving the health of other women and children.’
The 43rd Independence celebration showed a moving account of the fierce war in 1971 with what is now Pakistan. An estimated 3 million people died before Independence was declared. Speaker Dr Zasheem Ahmed, who is an Economist and Endowed Professor at Caledonian University, spoke eloquently of ‘my people who sacrificed their lives so that we could live in peace. We must honour them.’
He said he was proud of what Bangladesh had achieved since Independence. ‘We see economic growth thanks to things like the Grameen Bank – founded by Bangladeshi national, Professor Yunus and recognised world wide - and the College of Nursing.’
Bailie Phil Greene from Glasgow City Council, extended greetings on behalf of the City’s Lord Provost. He reflected on his visit by ship to what was East and West Pakistan before Bangladesh’s Independence. ‘It took three weeks to sail from West to East. I couldn’t understand how that was supposed to be the same country, being so far apart.’ As an SNP Councillor, he said he hoped to be able to invite everyone to a celebration of Scottish Independence after September.
The cultural programme for the evening had been organised by Dr Alvis Atique, who has recently gained her PhD in Civil Engineering from Strathclyde University while raising two young children. She sang and played the harmonium, others danced and sang and presented a fashion show. Children also performed to the delight of the audience. The event finished with a grand dinner.
Marah Louw, the singing sensation who famously danced with Nelson Mandela when he received the Freedom of the City in 1993, will sing in Glasgow again on Friday 4 April, at the start of Aye Write! book festival.
Marah – a former judge on South Africa’s Pop Idol – will perform at the ‘Glasgow Celebrates Mandela’ event in Mitchell Library. Chairing the evening will be Brian Filling, Chairman of the Scottish Anti-Apartheid Movement and now Honorary Consul for South Africa.
Said Marah: ‘That event in George Square in 1993 was a turning point in my life and career as an artist. The invitation from Brian Filling and the Anti-Apartheid organisation to come to Glasgow and perform in front of thousands of Glasgow people was a huge honour. The crowds were happy and excited at seeing Mandela for the first time. For me to have been part of that historic moment has been priceless.
“People standing in the rain, cheering, touching him, touching me, was magical. Not a lot of artists from my country have had that opportunity. I kept pinching myself in disbelief that I was on the same stage with this great man. I felt blessed, I still feel blessed.’
Nelson Mandela – South Africa’s first democratically elected president – died last year aged 95. Marah shared special moments with her country’s leader, including performing at his freedom concert at London’s Wembley Stadium, as well as his Presidential inauguration in 1994.
The singer will share her memories of her time with Mandela, as well as her affection for Glasgow, with the Aye Write! audience.
Marah said: ‘I’m filled with mixed emotions of remembrance, sadness and the humble responsibility of keeping the memory and legacy of Tata Nelson Mandela alive. I also feel joy. My reason for joy is that I am honoured to take part and be able to come to Glasgow and celebrate the memory of Tata Nelson Madiba Mandela. I just love Glasgow, the warmth and hospitality of the Scottish people is amazing. The audience at our Celebrating Mandela event can expect to be entertained with some of the music that Madiba used to enjoy and which I always had the opportunity to perform in his presence.”
Scottish Anti-Apartheid activist Brian Filling campaigned for Mandela’s release from prison and became firm friends with Madiba. He was a guest at Mandela’s inauguration in 1994.
Brian will also share some of his memories with the audience. He said: ‘Nelson Mandela was well aware of the support he had in Glasgow before arriving in 1993 and he went on to have a special relationship with the city. I met with him a number of times after his visit and he always expressed his thanks for that support.
‘I’m delighted Marah will be joining us at Aye Write! on Friday. She’s a very good entertainer and I’m sure the audience will have an enjoyable night.’
Scottish hip-hop group Stanley Odd will also be appearing at Glasgow Celebrates Mandela, adding a whole new dimension to the event. The group has been commissioned to produce a song on Mandela’s life and achievements and will perform the track live for the first time at the evening event. There are still a few tickets left for this event.
Aye Write, Glasgow’s book festival, runs from Friday 4 April till Saturday 12 April. It will bring more than 150 famous authors and speakers to the city for a huge celebration of books and writing.
For the full programme of events see: www.ayewrite.com
Tickets can be bought via the website, by calling 0141 353 8000, or in person at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.
London Road Nursery children had their first experience of a Glasgow Life Balanceability class in the inspirational Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, this week.
The tiny tots learned to use the latest pedal-less bikes. Balanceability is a ‘learn to cycle’ programme, designed for children under 6. It is the first step in learning the balance, co-ordination and stability needed to ride a bike. By learning these core skills it is hoped that the youngsters will learn to ride a bike in future and be inspired to continue to lead healthy and active lives.
Already, the legacy is evident. A number of the children in the programme have started to access other physical opportunities at the Emirates Arena including mini kickers football and gymnastics.
Parents and Glasgow Life staff also benefit from the Balanceability class. Around 85% of the parents had never been to the Emirates Arena till their child was enrolled at the Balanceability class. To keep parents and children coming back, incentives are offered: as a tour of the Emirates Arena; a Glasgow Club gym session or a chance to watch Glasgow Rocks – the professional basketball team which plays at the world class stadium.
Ten Glasgow Life staff members have been trained to teach the Balanceability programme in the Emirates Arena. Another 14 are doing the same across the city.
Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life and Executive Committee Member for the Commonwealth Games, said: ‘Programmes like these create a legacy from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Local people are encouraged to use our world-class facilities and future generations are inspired to get active and learn core skills.’
Scott Cowan, Glasgow Life Balanceability coach, said: ‘You can see the kids progress every week. Within a couple of classes they are so excited they don’t want the session to end. Learning to ride a bike here is something they will never forget. I am very proud to be part of that.’
Wendy McLauchlan, London Road Nursery staff member, said: ‘We have seen our kids flourish due to the staff’s excellent approach. Some children who were wary in week one, now confidently participate.’
A nature festival is being held on Sunday 23 March at the Kelvin Meadow off Clouston Street in the West End. Activities include willow weaving, storytelling, creating raised beds, planting, outdoor play and activities for children, and face painting.
Local people have been using the Kelvin Meadow in a collective effort to save the land for community use and prevent it being built on. There will be an opportunity for festival go-ers to share their views about the land.
Future activities include a week long Easter Activities programme from Monday 7 till Friday 11 April.
A petition asking for Atos to be removed as a sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games moved to the next stage of the Scottish Parliament process without one question being asked of the people presenting it.
Evidence for the proposed action was given to the Petitions Committee today (Tuesday 18 March 2014) by Sean Clerkin, spokesperson and fellow campaigner, Iain MacInnes of the Glasgow Against Atos campaign.
In his presentation to the six MSPs attending the Petitions Committee, Sean said Atos was a ‘toxic brand’ and it was morally wrong for the company to profit from the misery they imposed on the hundreds of thousands of people they were assessing on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions and declaring fit to work.
‘This company pays not one penny in corporation tax,’ said Sean. ‘During the assessment process at least 22,000 people have died. One man, in Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency, was taken off benefits and found, months later, having starved to death weighing only five stones.’
He concluded: ‘MSPs with a moral conscience should do the right thing and terminate the Atos contract as a sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. If not, the Games will be tarnished for ever.’
Answering the unspoken question of why Atos Healthcare should be targeted when it was Atos IT which was the Games sponsoring company, Iain MacInnes said: ‘The health care company and the IT company are part of the same Atos group. The so-called health care company is not in any shape or form caring for people’s health. It is working to a mathematical formula to get a target percentage of people off disability benefit. It is dealing with numbers in the same way an IT company deals in numbers.’
He offered the Petitions Committee fact packs detailing people who had suffered great hardship because of the Atos assessments processes. ‘Some of them are living in fear of losing the small amount of benefits they receive, so don’t want their names revealed,’ he stressed. ‘That’s why we don’t always give their names.’
After expressing his ‘great disappointment’ to the Petitions Committee that no questions were asked on their presentation, Sean told this website afterwards: ‘They are a disgrace. These people are supposed to be working on behalf of the people of this country. We have brought this Petition here in good faith believing they would scrutinise what we are saying and then make a decision to act. What they are doing is sending out our petition to many relevant bodies – including the Scottish Government, the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, ATOS, the Department for Work and Pensions, Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Scottish Disability Sport and sportscotland and so on – to get their feedback. Before the responses are likely to be collated, the Games will be over.’
The Committee was chaired by David Stewart (Convener) with the others in attendance being: Chic Brodie (Deputy Convener) Jackson Carlaw, Jim Eadie, David Torrance and John Wilson. The only woman at the table was one of four civil servants.
The full Petitions hearing can be seen on the Scottish Parliament website/videos/ 18 March. It is after that of Jackie Watt and Jane Plumb, Chief Executive of the Group B Strep Support. Both women have personal experience of babies dying from the condition.Their petition was to raise awareness of Strep B in pregnancy and ways to prevent it affecting mothers and infants during birth. It was screened at 1.07.56 and the Anti-Atos Petition PE1508 was heard at the end of the Group B Strep petition at around 34.56
GLASGOW HOME OWNERS
Thursday 27 February 2014
Jurys Inn Hotel
Jamaica Street, Glasgow
ALL HOME OWNERS WELCOME
Agenda – Campaign strategy + Home owners’ help surgery
There is sweet music coming from Govanhill Baths.
A baby grand piano is now in the foyer thanks to Play me I’m Yours charity and GBart – the Baths’ own art group. And it will be played soon – on Wednesday 12 February at 7.30pm – by Dave Anderson, Louise Cairns, Aislin Quinn, Tom Urie, Peter Shand and others. Donation at the door to hear them make music on this dream instrument which will remain indefinitely in the building.
This is just one event in a year of celebration. The foundation stone was laid in 1914 and the place opened three years later.
The Toddlers’ /Training pool is being refurbished and is expected to be ready for use by Monday 24 February for the ‘Wee Splash.’ At that point, the dream of many people in Govanhill to ‘swim again in Govanhill Baths’ will come true – to one third of the way.
The other two pools will take a bit longer to come into use again. But in time, through a three phase, development, programme, they too will be available and everyone will be able to ‘swim again’ in what will be a Wellbeing Centre. The Centre is being shaped within the Edwardian Baths which were closed more than ten years ago by Glasgow City Council to the great surprise and anger of the local community.
Since then, a vocal and active group of people has championed the re-opening of the place as a health and well-being centre. And that is happening. Formed as a Trust and as Friends of the Govanhill Baths the supporters have appointed an administrator – Jim Monaghan – and promoted a programme of events to encourage more and more people to come in and see how the plans are developing and the space is being used. So drop in on Wednesday 12 February at 7.30pm and hear for yourself the new sounds coming from the Govanhill Baths.