Asylum seekers in Scotland have set up their own residents’ association to promote the interests of all residents in asylum seekers’ housing.
They will have an open day on Saturday 16 November at Alive and Kicking’s building in Red Road, Glasgow. The organisers will provide information about housing and carry out a survey to gauge how satisfied people are with current arrangements.
Called Scottish Asylum Seekers Residents’ Association, the organisation will liaise between the accommodation provider and the resident. It will also support individuals who wish to raise concerns about housing conditions or needs.
Established in 2009, the Association is run by people from a variety of troubled countries around the world. They have a wide range of cultures and languages but all are resident in Scotland.
Originally the Association worked with the YMCA or Ypeople who originally provided housing for Glasgow’s asylum seekers. That multi million pound contract is now held by Serco with Orchard and Shipman Housing as the local operator.
What better way to celebrate 15 years of Glasgow Film Office (GFO) bringing stars of screen to the city than having the latest film which has used the place for locations, up for an award at Cannes Film Festival.
‘The Angels’ Share’ directed by Ken Loach, will know on Sunday 27 May whether it wins an accolade or not. It will have its UK premiere in Glasgow next week.
The producer, Rebecca O’Brien, said: ‘Ken Loach, Paul Laverty and I have made four films in Glasgow in the past 15 years and have had the support of the Glasgow Film Office on every one. They’ve been terrifically helpful and often made difficult things happen for us. So we salute the GFO on their 15th birthday and will raise a glass in celebration!’
Offering a free service to all types of productions from feature films to tv commercials, the GFO works closely with other council services, Strathclyde Police and the productions to make sure their activities have minimum impact on local residents and businesses while delivering maximum economic impact to the city.
Established in 1997, the GFO has attracted around £200 million worth of film business to Glasgow.
Last year was a vintage time when major productions World War Z, Cloud Atlas and Under The Skin alone, brought in £20.15 million with stars such as Brad Pitt, Halle Berry and Scarlett Johansson working in town.
Other notable film which have used Glasgow for a backdrop included: Burnistoun, Gary: Tank Commander, Lip Service, My Name Is Joe, Rab C Nesbitt, Red Road, River City, Sony Bravia ‘Paint’ commercial, Still Game, Sweet Sixteen, Taggart, The House of Mirth.
Gerard Butler was named GFO’s Ambassador in 2009 to help raise the city’s profile and demonstrate its capability as a production base. Around 50 organisations have now signed up to the Glasgow Film Partnership – to promote Glasgow’s ‘film-friendly’ reputation – details at : http://www.glasgowfilm.com/filming_in_glasgow/film_partnership.asp.
Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: ‘Glasgow Film Office has been a tremendous success over the past 15 years, bringing more than £200 million to our economy. The list of familiar productions, shows how it has been an industry hub since 1997. We look forward to its continued success in bringing many more productions here.’
Seeing Scotland on film or television was important in the decision of 1 in 5 visitors to come here. With more than 530 locations in its database, the city can serve all types of companies.
Senior figures in the film industry – such as Jeremy Kleiner, the producer of World War Z – have praised the work of the GFO in facilitating the smooth running of their productions.
For more information on the Glasgow Film Office, see: www.glasgowfilm.com.
Expanded premises and a change of name have enabled Red Road Women’s Centre to welcome more men.
The centre in Balornock, has been reborn as the Red Road Family Centre and is now attracting men from an array of cultures to use its huge range of services.
Around 1600 people a month visit the one-stop-shop on Red Road. First opened in a flat at the base of a Red Road tower block in 1996, it provides everything from childcare to financial, legal and debt advice, counselling, acupuncture and photography classes.
June Aird, Outreach Project Worker, said: ‘It wasn’t that men weren’t allowed in before – we did have a few men who came in for help with various problems – but now that we’re a family centre, we have more men coming in and attending our classes such as computing.
‘The place was becoming more like a family centre, and since we changed the name, we haven’t looked back.
‘We try to help with any issue or any problem which is brought through the door. If we don’t have the answer, we will signpost people in the right direction.’
The family centre in Red Road receives funding from the Glasgow North East Community Planning Board.
Bailie Jim Todd, who chairs the Board, said: ‘The Red Road Family Centre is a real community hub providing a huge range of services to local residents. The dedicated staff do a superb job helping local people with practical and emotional problems. I’m glad that more men have been encouraged by the centre’s change of name, to take advantage of this facility.’
By Martin Graham & Erik Geddes
400 people took to the streets for a march from Red Road flats to the city centre to express their grief at the recent suicide of three Russian asylum seekers.
The Serykh family jumped to their deaths from the high flats at 63 Petershill Drive after their asylum claim was rejected.
Led by Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees and Positive Action in Housing, the marchers made it clear that refugees are welcome in the city and that the Home Office and UK Border Agency should adopt more humane policies when dealing with asylum seekers.
As the marchers reached the City Chambers, they held a mass sit down and chanted ‘Say it loud and say it clear, refugees are welcome here.’
Organisers were told by police that they could not gather in George Square due to construction work, so the group moved on to Shuttle Street, where there were speeches from Green MSP Patrick Harvie, STUC representatives and SNP MSP Anne McLaughlin.
Many of the speakers criticised Labour MP for Glasgow North East, Willie Bain, for failing to attend and show his support.
Speaking afterwards, Anne McLaughlin said: ‘The Home Office are refusing to speak to MSPs about asylum issues, claiming that it is a reserved issue and outwith our remit. But I will continue to fight for the rights of asylum seekers in Glasgow.’
Campaigners are calling for a public inquiry or a fatal accident inquiry into the deaths of the three Russians.
Denis Davies, a volunteer with Unity, a charity which operates an advice and support network for Asylum seekers in Glasgow, was on the march. He says the march went well but claims political support from the local MP was short in supply.
He said: ‘The core of the march was asylum seekers and people form the Red Road flats, so it was quite representative of the area.’But Willie Bain never came, and we’ve not had much support from him in the past.’
‘The Home Office do what they want to do and it makes the lives of very vulnerable people more difficult than they already are.’
‘The Home Office seem to be changing their story as and when it suits; I understand that they are now saying that the Serykh family jumped because the father was mentally ill – but their asylum claim was refused on the grounds that they were not mentally ill.’
Willie Bain MP was last at Red Road on the Monday morning following the incident. He discounts claims that he is not doing enough. The former law lecturer says that a more ‘integrated approach’ is needed to try and stop future tragedies.
He said : ‘I’ve spoke to the Prime Minister about this. I’m trying to see if the border agency can work a bit more closely with the NHS and social work to try and pick up some of the particular vulnerabilities and health issues that some asylum seekers might have.
‘In this case here it’s very clear that there was an underlying mental health issue. ‘Neither I nor anybody that spoke to him believed that Sergie Serykh or his family believed they were capable of self-harm, which of course is what eventually happened.
‘The one lesson that we can take is that there has got be a better understanding of working together between the home office and the other local agencies to prevent other such tragedies in the future.
‘The biggest thing we can do is get through asylum claims more quickly, and that is why the Home Office has taken on more case workers.
‘The Asylum seekers that come to me don’t like being in limbo, they need to know more quickly where there future lies and if they can work in the UK or not.’
By Alan McCrorie
Glasgow Housing Association’s new chief executive celebrated his first day in post by helping front a major community regeneration plan targeting eight areas of the city.
Martin Armstrong joined Communities and Housing Minister Alex Neil MSP and Leader of Glasgow City Council Steven Purcell in Maryhill to announce eight ‘transformational regeneration areas’.
The partnership between GHA, the Scottish Government and the council aims to build thousands of homes in the target neighbourhoods. The first scheme, in Maryhill, should, if approved, provide 400 new homes. Initial plans are for 300 owner-occupied and 100 for tenants at Maryhill Locks.
There are plans in hand for 300 homes in Laurieston, mainly for rent. However, the partnership hopes to build a total of 1700 homes for rent, sale and low-cost ownership there.
The plans also call for new health and community facilities, as well as green spaces and commercial and retail properties.
The regeneration model would be rolled out across the city to include Sighthill and Shawbridge, Red Road, North Toryglen, Gallowgate, Ibrox and East Govan.
He said: ‘There’s more than just houses,’ said Martin. ‘We want to establish a sense of sustainability in the community that hasn’t been there in the past.
‘It would be wrong of me to put a timescale on it, but clearly what we’re going to do is to give urgency to the transformational regeneration areas. What we want to do is work with these eight communities and ensure there’s a realistic timescale that we can deliver.
He added: ‘GHA will be part of the partnership to make sure the houses are built to a good standard, they are retained at an affordable rent level, and also we will play our part in other initiatives surrounding employability to ensure we create a good, stable environment in which people can live and educate their children.’
Steven Purcell said: ‘This will be about building homes that people want to live in and creating employment in a time of recession. It’s good news for people in this part of the city who’ve waited a long time to see their community change in the way that other communities across Glasgow already have.’
On the 23rd floor of number 10 Red Road something cool is going down.
Impacts Arts, with support from partner agencies including Glasgow Housing Association – who have lent them the flat – are running Gallery 37, a youth project which began in 1991 in Chicago.
Now in its third year in Scotland, but this the first time in Red Road, Gallery 37’s aim is to develop and bring out creative skills in young people.
The large flat near the top of the skyscraper is hotbed of creativity with wall-to-wall murals, creative writing, paintings and sculpture in every room, and beyond.
The project closes -as we go to print – with a show at The Arches on Saturday 8th August.
Gallery 37 in Red Road success is a fitting tribute to the new communities integration in Glasgow.
Arts Assistant Laura McKechnie, 29, has a natural charm which resonates with the young people she helps.
Laura explained: ‘I think we have learned as much as the young people themselves. It’s been amazing being with kids from all the different cultures and backgrounds.’
Ibrahim Dikko, 13, lives in The Sighthill High flats, he moved to Scotland from Nigeria four years ago.
Talented Ibrahim is a dancer, a story teller, an artist and has the confidence to tell us all about Gallery 37 at Red Road.
He said: “It’s been great coming here meeting all the guys and getting a chance to do new activities like drama and making sculptures.
‘I would definitely come back again next year, I really like Laura and all the tutors.’
Most of the youngsters live in the neighbouring blocks at Red Road, Ibrahim has been making the journey from Sighthill every day for the past six weeks to take part in the project.
And while there is no doubt the gangland street law prevents many youths from moving area to area, this isn’t a big worry to Ibrahim.
He said: ‘The best thing to do is ignore them, make no eye contact and just carry on. They won’t stop me coming here.’