Community Cafe Officially Up and Baking

November 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Minister Rev Lilly McKinnon sahres a laugh with Church Moderator Neil Galbraith after he had cut the ribbon

Minister Rev Lilly McKinnon shares a laugh with Church Moderator Neil Galbraith after he had cut the ribbon

Grace and Flavour Cafe has cut the ribbon and celebrated its official opening with a full house enjoying coffee and cake!

On Friday 5 November, Church Moderator Neil Galbraith did the honours and cut the red ribbon. The cafe is led by Minister Rev Lilly McKinnon and a team of 19 volunteers in the Trinity Church on Govanhill’s Daisy Street.

Minister Lilly was delighted with the opening: ‘It’s been a lovely day and it’s nice to mark the cafe’s birth with an official occasion. Since we opened our doors last month we’ve been run off our feet. This cafe is attracting lots of people from the neighborhoods and that’s ideal.’

Neil Galbraith, who was quite taken with the quality of the baking, sees a bright future for the venture. The Church Moderator said:’ So far this cafe has been a great success in a big community. Although it’s a cafe, it has further potential for facilitating community activity. Grace and Flavour helps put the Parish Church back into the heart of the community.’

The latte and sponge cake are ideal too! The cafe is open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 10am till 1.30pm.

‘Another nail in the coffin for Victoria Road’?

November 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Croshill Post Office is poised to be closed

Croshill Post Office is poised to be closed

 By Stuart Maxwell and Elyas Hussain

An award winning Post Office in the heart of Glasgow’s Southside is poised to be shut down despite fierce community opposition who see the service as vital.

There are plans for Crosshill Post Office, Victoria Road, to be closed and relocated to 540 Cathcart Road- where it will be a hybrid service, integrated with another retail venture. This comes a little over a year after the branch was awarded ‘Best Town and City’ Post Office in Scotland.

Fiercely opposed to the relocation, Iain MacInnes, Govanhill and Crosshill Community Council secretary, has headed a local campaign. Said Iain: ‘We have nearly 700 signatures from the local community in opposition to this. People are showing great displeasure. Post Office provisions have cut heavily all over the Southside. All such cuts are morally bankrupt. It is an iconic building to all cultures. They see it as part of their community being taken away.’

Iain’s campaign has been supported by Nicola Sturgeon, local MSP and Government Minister. In a letter to Post Office Ltd. Nicola wrote: ‘Many in the area doubt the business viability of such a ‘dual purpose’ branch and fear that if it wasn’t successful, it would not be too long before a proposal was forthcoming to close the branch altogether.’

Govanhill resident Brian Rowinson is one of many angry at the proposed closure. The 39 year-old told LOCAL NEWS: ‘If they close this post office it will effect the elderly community because Crosshill is within walking distance. The new premises are smaller- how will they possibly accommodate all the customers? It’s horribly ironic that Crosshill Post Office won the Post Office of the Year and is being closed?

The LOCAL NEWS has been told by Post Office Ltd that the decision to advertise the franchise was taken after the business went in to receivership in December 2009, and that the sole applicant wants to move the service to Cathcart Road. Julie Morrison, Head of External Relations for Post Office Ltd said: ‘She (the applicant), wants to relocate to Cathcart Road. Rents and rates on Victoria Road make it an nonviable option. This is the best solution available to us.’

Iain MacInnes is not convinced: ‘As a community we have seen no evidence to show that there were proper procedures for other people to put their names forward to run this post office.’
The period for consultation, allowing the public to respond to the proposal, ended on October 26. Julie Morrison has pledged that Post Office Ltd ‘will take all all submissions into consideration before making a final decision.’ Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, who has presented a motion to the Scottish Parliament against the relocation, fears community views will be shelved

Said Patrick: ‘The decision to close and relocate has been taken too early.. I don’t think the Post Office have explored all options for maintaining the service on Victoria Road. The branch on Victoria Road is clearly more accessible for the local community. There have been many reductions to Post Office services in the Southside and there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough. The peoples’ wishes tend to be ignored but this decision has stirred enough reaction to make the Post Office think again.’

In 2007, David Meikle, Councillor for Pollokshields, led a protest against Post Office plans to close a branch on Kildrostin Street. 1300 signatures were gathered but the closure went ahead. David told LOCAL NEWS: ‘At the time, the Post Office cited a new service on Shields Road and Crosshill itself as alternatives. We were promised two counters in the Shields Road hybrid, but have only one. To now hear that Crosshill is to close is really a piece of nonsense. You get the impression there is no real consultation period and that it’s a done deal. This will be another nail in the coffin for the vitality of Victoria Road.’

Flavour served with grace= Grace and Flavour

September 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Minister Lily McKinnon, cake and coffee, and the lady volunteers

Minister Lily McKinnon, cake and coffee, and the lady volunteers

Who’s not in need of some Grace and Flavour now and again? Well, a new cafe in the Trinity Church in Daisy Street,  Govanhill is serving up ample portions of both. The flavour is in the soup, sandwiches and cakes, the grace is in the service – the new cafe -named Grace and Flavour – is run by church Minister, Rev Lily McKinnon plus a fleet of 19 lady volunteers who have successfully taken the Food Hygiene Certificate.

Grace and Flavour is open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 10am till 1.30pm. Previously, the space was a computer room.  When funding dried up the  service had to be discontinued and the 20 computers were given to local causes. But, undeterred, Lily has redeployed the space thanks to a £5000 grant from the Church of Scotland Pilot Scheme for Parish Development Fund.  She believes the new cafe will help weave communities together in an area plagued by social problems.

Said Lily: ‘We opened  on 21 September.  Trinity Church of Scotland is in the heart of Glasgow’s largest multi-cultural priority area where long term unemployment, crime, drugs and alcohol abuse are the normal way of life for many.’

For Lily though, the enterprise is much more than simply providing a cafe: ‘I want to get these volunteers beyond just preparing and serving’, explained Minister Lily. She added: ‘Part of the whole idea is to get them integrating in the local community.

‘For example, we are going to run a creche on a Monday so that the Roma women can bring their children and they can integrate with the English speaking people of this community. At the moment they are isolated and we want to break what I see as a communication barrier.’

On Friday 5 November the Cafe will be opened officially by the Rev Neil Galbraith, Moderator of Glasgow Presbytery and founder of Glasgow, The Caring City Charity.

All baking is homemade and prepared with local produce and complements the rich array of aromatic, freshly ground, coffees and varieties of teas. All art work that adorns the walls is provided by students from Hollybrook special needs Secondary School. Two students from the school, Abbas Shaukat and Amy Balantine, are currently doing work experience at the cafe.

Roma outreach in schools

July 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

by Elyas Hussain

A new project has been set up to improve the lives of young members of the Central and Eastern European Roma community who are living in Glasgow and the West of Scotland.
The Roma Youth Project is run by the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council (WSREC) which deals with a broad range of issues including racism, gender and equality.
The Roma can trace their origins to medieval India and constitute the largest ethnic minority in Europe.They live in various countries and have many different languages and traditions. They are also Europe’s most socially excluded group, with a history of persecution.
The project aims to provide a strong identity among young Roma people, promote integration activities within local communities, provide information and advice and through education and social interaction, dispel some of the misconceptions and prejudices about Roma culture.
Shawlands Academy and Annette Street Primary School, Govanhill, are among the first places the Project is working in.
Mohammed Razaq, Executive Director for the Regional Equality Council told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘I am pleased that the project has significantly influenced the school environment of Shawlands Academy and Annette Street Primary School making it a positive learning experience for young Roma pupils. With the intervention of the Roma Youth Project it is more likely that these young people will be able to increase their attendance, broaden their horizons, achieve more learning and have an equal chance to live, learn and work.’

Slum landlords on the run

June 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Strident efforts by Crosshill/Govanhill Community Council have galvanised local agencies and finally delivered £1.8 million from the Scottish Government to revitalise the neighbourhood and get rid of slums and slum landlords. The plan was announced by Nicola Sturgeon Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing at Govanhill Housing Association’s headquarters on Friday 18 June.
Backcourt refurbishment and design will be done by local people who will gain skills and jobs from the tasks. And a property acquisition strategy by Glasgow City Council and Govanhill Housing Association will enable them to secure neglected or unsafe buildings. A multi-agency ‘hit squad’
will crack down on unregistered landlords and be able to enforce environmental health laws.
Speaking in the ‘hub’ where the hit squad has been pioneering the joint working techniques, the Minister said: ‘Govanhill has shown that people are willing to get to grips with the problems. The Community Council in its first public meeting some years ago, put the agencies on the spot and galvanised them to work together. Since then, together, the Housing Association, Police, Environmental Health, Community Health and all the other agencies have worked hard to find ways to re-act quickly to address the problems. This funding will help breathe new life into Govanhill.’
Rogue landlords who ‘traded in misery,’ will be pursued. The Housing Bill currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament, will strengthen existing powers for local authorities to oblige owners to look after their properties. And the landlord registration system will be improved, dramatically.
Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council said: ‘Considerable progress has already been made in the way the Council and all the partners respond to Govanhill’s problems with significent resources directed towards the area, particularly in relation to housing.’
Afterwards the Minister told the LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW: ‘People in Govanhill are not unique in having these problems. But the extent and concentration of them is on a scale not experienced in other places. The integrated approach is having a real impact. The early signs are good and this could be rolled out to other areas.’ She added: ‘Community Councils are a vital resource. In this area they forced the action.’
Part of the plan is that any landlord operating a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) without a licence – a criminal offence – faces a maximum penalty of £5,000. Next year, changes to legislation will increase the fine to £20,000.
In May, Govanhill Housing Association petitioned the Scottish Parliament to highlight the worst of the problems and offer solutions. The Association submitted a proposal for an employability programme linked to the environmental sustainability of Govanhill. This has attracted £1.5 million over the next two years. It will enable unemployed people to be trained and given jobs which will improve the environment and fabric of the neighbourhood.
An enforcement team will strengthen the Council’s existing powers by reporting unregistered landlords to the Procurator Fiscal so suspending a tenant’s liability to pay rent. Where the landlord is found to be not fit and proper, registration will be refused. The ‘hub’ where the multi-agency approach is based, is within the Govanhill Housing Association premises and attracts £300,000 of the committed funding.
Glasgow Shettleston MSP Frank McAveety, who was present for the announcement, welcomed the measures. He said: ‘I led a delegation of MSPs who visited Govanhill and met local housing groups to discuss the particular housing challenges that this area presents. We then organised a special evidence session for the Housing Minister as a result of a petition to the Scottish Parliament submitted by residents. I am pleased that these residents have now been listened to.’
Newly elected Glasgow Central MP, Anas Sarwar added: ‘I welcome this much-needed funding which has been released following a period of concerted pressure from Govanhill residents and from local Labour Councillors and MSPs. Govanhill already receives £3 million of capital spending from Glasgow City Council to tackle problem housing and today’s cash boost will complement this – but it’s still a drop in the ocean compared to what Govanhill needs. I would like to see the Scottish Government match Glasgow City Council’s spending pound for pound.’
A report by Govanhill Housing Association to the Parliament’s Petitions Committee showed that £187 million was needed to restore almost 2000 homes to a tolerable standard.
Association Director, Anne Lear commented: ‘We are delighted at this Government recognition of the issues in this community. We really look forward to working with all our partners including Glasgow South East Regeneration Agency (GSERA), the Law Centre and Oxfam. The funding will provide local employment opportunities and will make a real difference to the area.’

Baths Trust seeks volunteers

June 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Mahri Reilly of Govanhill Baths Art and Regeneration eam is urgently looking for volunteers to help prepare their Refugee Week Event ‘All Our Futures’ which will be on Saturday 19 June starting at 10am at the Baths in Calder Street.  Volunteers will be needed on the day but also on the day before – Friday 18 June from 1pm till 4pm. Govanhill Baths Community Trust are good at organising family, fun days and this will be no exception. For further details  phone 0141 433 2999 or see website:  The Trust’s motto is: ‘United We Will Swim.’ as they progress to re-opening the Victorian Baths in Calder Street, Govanhill, as a modern health and leisure centre and a community hub.

Bakers rise to a minibus for special needs school

June 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Hollybrook School's very happy pupils and staff beside their new minibus donated by Greggs the bakers.

Hollybrook School's very happy pupils and staff beside their new minibus donated by Greggs the bakers.

Kind hearted staff from Greggs the bakers, handed over a minibus to Hollybrook School in Govanhill for children with special needs.
Over the years, the school and the bakers have built up an excellent working relationship, which resulted in the pupils going on valuable work experience programmes to the company.
Mary Farrell, head teacher at Hollybrook said: ‘This mini-bus will enable us to make educational visits on a more regular basis. We cannot thank Greggs enough for this wonderful gift and look forward to continuing a strong friendship.’




Arson attack on special needs school

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

dsc-a-burnt-out-wheel-chair-inside-school-copy A school for children with severe learning difficulties was burnt to cinders in what Police believe was an act of heartless arson on Thursday 29 April.

Hampden Primary in Toryglen burst into flames around 7pm. Luckily, the 37 pupils who attend the school were already finished for the day and there was no one in the school.

Strathclyde Detective Sergeant Jim Leckie, heading the investigation, said: ‘This fire was set during the hours of daylight in a school which was very popular and at the heart of the community.

‘Enquiries have revealed that the fire was started deliberately. I’d like to speak to anyone who has any information that could help trace the person or persons responsible.’

Contact Gorbals CID on 0141 532 5300 or CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800 555 111.

Firefighters tackled the blaze for five hours. Repairs will cost an estimated £500,000. Much of the special equipment that the pupils rely on was left ravaged by the flames. (see picture of burned out wheel chair)

Hampden caters for children with a variety of complex learning difficulties and with six weeks of term remaining there is no chance of pupils returning to the building.

The school was due to close in August when pupils were to have moved to Richmond Park School, in Oatlands. Now they have been split up over three schools and are adjusting to new school environments at Hazelwood near Clarkston, Linburn in Hillington as well as Richmond Park.

Glasgow City Council has vowed to help ease this transition. ‘Officers will ensure the interruption to the children’s schooling is kept to a minimum,’ said Councillor Paul Rooney, Executive member for Education.

Lynne Shinie, a teacher at Hampden School who has worked in the intensive support unit which gives one-to-one assistance to pupils, told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘This is a great school to work for. The children are billiant. It’s a tragic shame that all the children’s work has been lost through this fire.’

Castlemilk man, Willie McQueen is a parent whose son Carl (10) has Downs Syndrome and has been attending the school for nine years. Said Willie: ‘It is unbelievable the work that this school did with my Carl. It’s sickening what has happened. I just wish I could find the people who did it.’  Another parent, Liz McCafferty from Govanhill has her daughter Cara (7) at the school.  Cara also has Downs Syndrome.  Said Liz: ‘ This is one of the best schools in the whole of Glasgow. The work they do with the children is absolutely amazing. I am  gutted by what has been done. It is shocking and a real disgrace.’

Cameroon association brings clean sweep to the Southside

March 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Job well done: CAMASS members and supporters take a break after cleaning up in Govanhill and the Gorbals

Job well done: CAMASS members and supporters take a break after cleaning up in Govanhill and the Gorbals

Members of Glasgow’s African diaspora and friends made a big difference on the South Side of the city in two hours after a 22-strong team set about a Govanhill and Gorbals clean-up.
The Cameroon Association & Sympathisers in Scotland (CAMASS) group pitched in with the Clean Glasgow Campaign and Great Gardens recently to get on top of the rubbish accumulating in green spaces near Govanhill Baths in Calder Street, at Kingarth Lane and behind the Adelphi Centre in the Gorbals.
CAMASS arrived in Glasgow nearly a decade ago and aims to help the children of Cameroonians living in Scotland understand and appreciate their culture and heritage. The association and its friends number some 50 people from across Glasgow.

Labour and Tories tight knit at Pollokshields hustings

February 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

L to R - Richard Cook (Con) , Anas Sarwar (Lab), host Sajid Quayum, Shabnum Mustapha (Lib Dem), Osama Saeed (SNP)

L to R - Richard Cook (Con) , Anas Sarwar (Lab), host Sajid Quayum, Shabnum Mustapha (Lib Dem), Osama Saeed (SNP)

By Martin Graham

Youth Community Services Association and radio station Awaz FM held a pre-election information evening on Wednesday, 10 February at Pollokshields Burgh Hall to give people the chance to question political candidates about their manifestos and policies.
On the podium were Osama Saeed, the SNP’s candidate for Glasgow Central; Shabnum Mustapha, Lib Dem candidate for Glasgow South; Anas Sarwar, Labour candidate for Glasgow Central, and Richard Cook, the Conservative candidate for East Renfrewshire.
Each speaker gave a brief introduction and then the debate was opened up to questions from the floor.
It was interesting to see how Labour’s Anas Sarwar and Tory Richard Cook supported each other, with Mr Sarwar even defending Conservative leader David Cameron at one point.
They seemed united against Mr Saeed and the SNP. Despite the much vaunted ‘two-horse race’, it would appear from the candidates’ performance that there is very little difference between the Labour and Conservative parties.
When asked what they had done personally for their communities, Mr Cook said that he had helped clear snow from the driveways of older people, and sought to develop community leaders.
Mr Sarwar said that he had campaigned against gang masters in Govanhill exploiting workers, and had sought to restore flights from Scotland to Pakistan.
Ms Mustapha said that she has helped with the Save Pollok Park campaign and also campaigned to save a post office in North Glasgow.
Mr Saeed said that he had been holding local surgeries to hear people’s concerns and had organised anti-war protests.
On the subject of auctioning lunches at the Scottish Parliament, it was pointed out that David Cameron had done the same thing at Westminster. Mr Cook said that it was unacceptable to use Parliament for this purpose.
Mr Sarwar pointed out that Mr Cameron had apologised for his lunch scandal, but Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond had not apologised for his.
Ms Mustapha stated that access to Parliament is not freely available, and that it should be treated with respect.
Mr Sarwar was asked about his father’s expenses history and his attendance record at Westminster, but he declined to answer questions about Mohammed Sarwar.
One audience member asked the panel if they would support restricting homosexuality to limit the spread of AIDS and HIV. Every panel member rejected the suggestion.

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