Back to the Roots: Glasgow East Hustings and the Museum of Poverty
The wood-panelled community hall rang of parties past. The hall was in the middle of a newly planted park, on the land ware tenement buildings stood not long before. A place of new beginnings, of coming together? As we arranged the chairs and set up a stand with information about the Museumof Poverty, it began to dawn on me just what we were taking on. In an area of some of the most deprived children and families in Scotland, the local residents of Glasgow East were about to meet their parliamentary candidates.
Some talked of the young people they knew in the area who were physically smaller than their counterparts elsewhere in the country. These are the communities that decision makers seem to have forgotten, that are heard of a few times a year when an outrageous story about child poverty makes it to the mainstream press. it’s a world without a voice.
This is where it all began. The Museum of Poverty was developed with young people and parents from this area, including with the local group Playbusters (and two others). It reflects their experiences and challenges. Since then their voices have been carried to the Scottish Parliament. Today is a big day as the Museum is on display for their own local candidates. Now they have a chance to ask what difference their potential representatives will make, especially to one who will soon be in Westminster.
As the 50 or so attendants arrive, including young people, so do the speakers. On the panel are Frances Curran (Scottish Socialist Party), Margaret Curran (Labour), and Kevin Ward (Liberal Democrat), Hamira Khan (Scottish Conservative Party), John Mason (Scottish Nationalist Party), and Arthur Thackeray (UKIP). The event is chaired by Douglas Hamilton, Head of Scotland for Save the Children. Irene Graham speaks on behalf of Save the Children, on our work, our campaigns, and our hopes. Playbusters also talk about what matters to them.
A charity operating within the east end of Glasgow, Playbusters brings children, families and the community together through a variety of activities and educational projects. Their vision is to work towards an East End where all children and young people can realise their potential through structured play, activity and personal growth in a safe environment. We help get their voices heard, and ensures grassroots groups and young people are at the front of our work.
Young People speak up
Through the course of the evening the young people and their parents get their chance: they fire questions on safe streets and the prevalence of gangs and knives on the estates, they ask about support for young carers. Local schools’ equipment is continuously stolen so they want assurances that buildings will be better protected and crime reduced. They ask about tackling stereotyping and prejudice. I wonder all night what these people make of their so called potential representatives, whether the answers they receive relate to their experiences, whether they are satisfied, or dare I say it, inspired?
Yet, all in all, the event inspires me. By bringing these communities together with their local candidates, we have begun to empower them, and give them a voice.