community

Your Watch Your Way

I am aware of ongoing problems and serious community safety concerns at Glenfuir and Greenbank Courts and that this has been reflected within recent articles published in the Falkirk Herald. These matters have also been raised with me through the Safer Streets roadshow held back in October and since then I have met with other stakeholders and been in contact with the  elected members for that Ward. One of the partners in the Safer Streets Initiative are Neighbourhood Watch Scotland and I have through discussions with them now raised the prospect of establishing a Watch in the first instance specifically for both these Courts. This of course is dependent upon the willingness and commitment of local tenants and the relevant partner agencies and organisations and from my recent meetings and discussions this has received a positive response. I thought therefore it was  worthwhile focusing this week’s blog upon some of  the key facets of the new modern Neighbourhood Watch in Scotland. People can then consider if this would be an appropriate means to address some of the issues and concerns  experienced by the tenants at this location.

Signage around the community is a key part of any Neighbourhood Watch

Getting involved with Neighbourhood Watch (NW) in your area can be a great way to help keep your community safe. It’s not all about crime these days; it’s about safety, there are perhaps some negative perceptions of what a Watch is for and how it operates, the days of the curtain twitchers and local bissy bodies are no longer in any way relevant .A scheme can generally be of any size.  It can be a whole street, one side of the street, one half of the street, a cul-de-sac, a few cottages, a whole block of flats.  The scheme should be of a size that is easy to manage.  It’s often best to start smaller and then expand.  

The ethos of the modern Watch is about looking out for each other and therefore working together in a positive neighbourly way. The ongoing COVID pandemic illustrated, especially back in the full lockdown, how communities could come together to help and support each other, to look out for each other and protect the most vulnerable within our communities. This is the spirit and the approach of the modern NW, and this approach could be a significant positive step for tenants in Glenfuir and Greenbank Courts feeling safer and better supported.  The Watch then is about values and not structures, it doesn’t need to operate with a structured committee or be formalised with monthly meetings, rather it can be informal , online  or using social media in fact their strap line of Your Watch Your Way is about setting something  up that works effectively for the people involved and not about a one size fits all template. A key outcome of the local community safety strategy was to establish a community safety forum for Camelon and Tamfourhill , however it could be that a local Neighbourhood watch and such a forum could be one in the same thing and operate towards the same aims and purposes. Having your own very localised Neighbourhood Watch can give a community a collective voice, it can be much better than individuals being upset and isolated and  perhaps complaining about things but never getting an effective response. To the contrary  a group of empowered people can be much better able to take effective collective action and without fear or worry about consequences and your collective voice greatly improves the likelihood of being listened too. When the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour see collective action being taken and consequences arising from their behaviour then there is likely to be a reduction in these negative events and the power of the community becomes far more significant and a positive force for change and good.

It is important that the people who are part of a Neighbourhood Watch understand what it is about and what role they are expected to play. It’s best if this is clear from the outset. It’s also great if you can involve everyone in deciding how the NW will work and what its purpose is. My plan therefore is to set up an initial partners meeting in the next few weeks, and I will invite the national NW Co-ordinator along with the Community Police, elected members, Fire Service, officers from Falkirk Council ,some of the local voluntary organisations and those tenants and local people who have already expressed an interest with getting involved with this initiative. All these partners bring expertise and experiences to the table,  and they also have the capacity to respond to the tenants community safety priorities and work together to make effective joined up responses. However, the key to this is the local tenants in these two courts and this is about their NW.  I will hold an open public meeting shortly after the initial partners meeting so we can ascertain the level of support and confirm that this would be an appropriate and supported course of action for Glenfuir and Greenbank Courts. There is a key set of questions that local tenants will need to answer:

Why do we wish to set up a NW scheme in the area?

What are the aims of our NW scheme?

What are our local concerns?

What can we do to address these concerns?

Who will we need to work with/what help do we need?

How can we all contribute to making our community safer?

Going through this process in a public open meeting will enable an agreed vision for the NW to be confirmed  and most importantly reach an agreement on local concerns and priorities and identify the required activities to address these concerns and priorities.

Finally, I want to highlight one particular aspect to the modern NW, that is their Neighbourhood alerts system. This operates in any way that works for local people and you don’t need to be  a member of a Watch to get this very localised information service.  The alert system can be targeted at a row of houses, a street, a few floors in  a high rise flat and can pass on relevant credible information about a particular incident or community safety situations being made aware to all the registered tenants. This could for example alert people to scams and doorstep fraudsters operating in their street, to incidents of vandalism happening in your Court and to any public health concerns or issues communicated directly to you on your mobile phone. You can find out more about this directly from this link:

When I read this message yesterday, I got up and looked out of my window and I could imagine others doing the same, all over our area. It made me feel part of the community. Then when the 2nd message arrived, I was really happy, and felt that I’d been part of something really great. I think this initiative is a powerful tool for good and many people will be blessed by it. Keep up the good work, and thank you! (Local person who uses the NW alert system)

I will off course keep everybody updated with progress and developments on this website and through the Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill social media platforms. The Neighbourhood Watch Scotland website can be found here:

community

Community Artist required for new Tidy, Clean and Green creative sign making project.

I am pleased to be bringing in the new year with news of a fantastic new Tidy, Clean and Green  community Arts project. Thanks to funding provided by the Falkirk Council Environmental Improvement Fund , local primary schools and Youth Groups will be involved with the Tidy, Clean and Green Creative messaging Project. A long title for a very practical but also creative approach to getting positive environmental messages out into the local community. The plan is to give our local young people a voice and an important role as stakeholders with improving the outdoor  environment throughout Camelon and Tamfourhill.  

A groovy wall mural beside the Forth and Clyde Canal, would a similar creation improve the outdoor environment around Camelon and Tamfourhill ?

Some people might remember the Tidy, Clean and Green poster competition that we ran in conjunction with Keep Scotland Beautiful  back in 2020  and the winner, a primary 7 pupil from Carmuirs Primary school had their entry used as a poster which appeared on rubbish bins and public places throughout the Camelon and Tamfourhill areas. This new project is based on that approach , of encouraging the creative energies of our young people to come up with designs, murals, posters, or anything creative that will encourage the wider community to look after and fully enjoy our open green spaces. Here is a description of the Project which appears on the recently advertised community artists brief :

Following initial engagement sessions with the local community, we now would like an artist to offer children and young people participatory workshops and a participatory programme to create visible, accessible, and engaging anti littering signage and portable decorative boards designed with and by young people. The project also has the potential to contribute towards ideas for a permanent wall mural at a notorious local grot spot, plyboard creations for portable and fixed local display with distinct local anti-littering messaging and various creative projects all focused on the theme of keeping our community tidy, clean and Green.

The winning poster from the competition held in 2020

This then builds upon the previous nudge activities used in the poster competition but on a far larger scale and will result in the creation of high profile permanent and semi-permanent art works appearing at key locations which will all promote the idea of keeping Camelon and Tamfourfhill Tidy, Clean and Green. It is great that Carmuirs, Easter Carmuirs and Bantaskin Primary schools and the Youth Groups at Tamfourhill Community Hub have already signed up to this programme. The Project is scheduled to run from February with a completion date of 31st March 2022. The Tidy, Clean and Green Community Group along with Our Place and Artlink Central are currently looking to recruit an experienced community artist to implement this project and facilitate the creative workshops with the different school and youth groups. It would be marvellous if a local person was able to apply for this commission, there is  a closing date of 17th January and here is the link to the advertised commission with details of the application process.

http://opportunities.creativescotland.com/opportunity/index/eb9e604d-95b7-4cca-b834-dac0dd6f0d2b

 If anybody is interested about this commission and requires additional information or just wants to have a chat about the Project, please in the first instance get in touch with myself : John R Hosie Community Safety Engager on 07391524528 or at communitysafetyengager@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

Happy New Year

John   

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Safer Streets Initiative and  twilight sports coming to Camelon and Tamfourhill in the  new year

The Twilight Sports Pilot Project:

This year is rapidly coming to  a conclusion so I thought I would highlight two community safety projects which will be delivered in early 2022.  Some of the details are still to be confirmed but I felt it was important to look ahead positively and provide people with a heads up about a couple of Projects which will provide new opportunities for local young people and further engagement for the entire community with local services and organisations.    

Twilight sports coming to Camelon and Tamfourhill in the new year

The Twilight Sports Pilot Project is scheduled to start in late February 2022 and will run for 16 weeks at four different locations throughout Camelon and Tamfourhill. I am grateful to the Camelon Community Sports Hub for providing the grant funding to support this initial pilot programme. The idea is to  provide sporting and wellbeing activities on Friday evenings at times when young people might be vulnerable to risk taking or being drawn into anti-social behaviour or other community safety concerns.  As I have highlighted in recent blogs, I spent some time over the summer months engaging with young people in the community, at local parks on the streets or at Lock 16, in fact anywhere they were meeting up. I carried out a detailed youth survey and I also spoke in some detail with them about their experiences of community safety and listened to some of their aspirations for improving the community. Here is an extract from one of the streetwork session recordings:  We had a lengthy and detailed chat with a younger group at the stairs down  from the Mariner Street shops, they wanted to take part in organised activities, and  this included: football, bikes and their repairs, there are safety issues at the Scrammy which was mainly about bullying , broken glass and fires/fireworks spoiling their enjoyment of den building and playing about the hill, they also said they are pushed of the MUGA by the bigger ones. We suggested there could in the future be organised football session involving adults and coaching and this suggestion was well received and would be taken up  by this particular group (Streetwork recording 1st September 2021) It seems fairly clear then that young people would enjoy and benefit from having structured and supervised activities at key locations where they already meet up within the  community. The twilight session will involve quality sports coaching and participation, an outdoor learning input from our colleagues at TCV and each week there will be a community safety partner taking part, including: The Police, Fire Service, Youth Information services and my own community safety workshop inputs. At this stage I am not able to give exact details, but I would hope that the sports will include Rugby, Basketball, football, and wheel sports and along with the Outdoor learning activities  and the community safety  inputs this should be an excellent new opportunity for the young people in the  community. There will be volunteering opportunities and training can be made available to support local people gain coaching certificates in all of the sports that are to be delivered, so if you have an interest in any sport please get in touch as I would really like to involve you with this Pilot project. My Streetwork engagement and survey work has also indicated that young people do not have access to reliable information, advice, or support around a whole raft of community safety issues. I will therefore be making sure that there is plenty of youth information and advice resources available at each of the twilight sessions and I have a couple of young volunteers who will be helping with that aspect of the programme. As always, I will be looking for opportunities to involve young people with the programme as a learning or volunteering experience and where appropriate I will ensure that they are able to use their involvement to gain accreditation and volunteering certificates like their Saltire Awards.   

Safer Streets Roadshow:

After the very wet trial of the  safer street’s roadshow back in October the Partner groups and agencies will be returning for a regular weekly roadshow through April into May 2022. This will involve various Falkirk Council services, local voluntary organisations, community groups and other statutory agencies like the Police and fire service all coming to different locations throughout the community. This provides local people with a one stop shop to ask questions, bring concerns or problems, or suggest new ideas and community initiatives to all of the main local agencies and services in the one place at the one time. Some people may remember the Street a Week initiative that operated locally in 2019 and this approach is similar in taking agencies out to the community, but the other feature is to try and encourage new community activities in a positive and constructive way. Where there is  a gap in community safety services or local opportunities, I would really like to see  people come forward and start having that discussion with all the agencies and groups relevant to the local area. For example, from the Pilot roadshow back in October we have had a request from a few local people to start a Neighbourhood watch and people have also expressed an interest in seeing a local community council established.

The Partners in October 2021

I will return to both of these community safety project nearer the time of their implementation, and there will be significant publicity to promote them, in both the local press, through flyers and posters and on social media platforms. If you would like more information or are keen to get involved I would be very happy to hear from you at any point from now!

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Community Safety and Creativity

I want to touch briefly in this week’s Blog upon how we can collaborate with arts and creativity to make our communities safer and a more interesting place to live. I have been working  with Camelon Arts to plan how creativity can contribute to making camelon and Tamfourhill a safer, happier, and more attractive place to live.(https://opcamelontamfourhill.co.uk/safetystrategy/) And in this respect, there will be further collaboration and project developments in early 2022 which focus upon environmental improvement, community empowerment and encouraging greater community cohesion.

Rainbow railings painted by the community at Nailer Road Park

 I am going  to highlight some distinct ways that Arts Projects can contribute to improving our local communities, and also demonstrate how aspects  of our local community safety projects are aligned to these key features:

  • Bringing communities together in public places:

Dr. Felton Earls, a Harvard professor of public health, conducted an extensive, fifteen-year study in neighbourhoods across Chicago. His research found that the single-most important factor differentiating levels of health from one neighbourhood to the next was what he called “collective efficacy.” He was surprised to find that it wasn’t wealth, access to healthcare, crime, or some more tangible factor that topped the list. A more elusive ingredient–the capacity of people to act together on matters of common interest–made a greater difference in the health and well-being of individuals and neighbourhoods.

This is an important feature of the recent activities at the CJFC car park and its surrounding area , not only are we interested in changing the reputation of that location and making it more of a community asset we are also wanting to bring people together to share experiences, fun and aspirations. We want to create an atmosphere of a positive community where we are  coming together in common cause to develop  and enjoy our public spaces. The pop-up park and gather and play programme were all examples of bringing a community together in a public place.

The community coming together in a public space
  • Increasing community participation :

An essential part of the proposed community mural at the Juniors Ground perimeter wall will be ensuring there is community ownership and full involvement in the planning , developing the themes and the implementation of the mural. There are various stakeholders that will be required to have control and ownership of the process and the product, including : The football club, CJFC social club , local tenants, young people  and various community groups and organisations. The success of this venture will be reliant upon facilitating collective involvement and ownership and creating  a forum where everybody feels able to take part and make their contribution.

  • Engage Youth in the Community:

Including young people as meaningful contributors in the social and economic aspects of community development must not be overlookedand we should acknowledge the potential contributions they can make by their own actions and creativity in making our local community a safer place to live.

There are distinct community benefits of engaging young people especially those that are more marginalised and disconnected from  the wider community with creativity and giving them a voice through artistic expression and participation. There is evidence that through involving young people  with community arts projects that this process often brings adults into the picture. The voices of young people can have a significant impact upon  the behaviours and attitude  of adults within the community. The Tidy, Clean & Green group were recently successful in securing funds from Falkirk Councils Environmental Improvement Fund. This will involve another close collaboration with the arts and the commissioning of community artists to work in the main with local schools, early years centres and youth groups and support them to create positive messaging that will encourage the wider community to  reduce the incidence of littering ,fly-tipping and dog pooh. This is about creating nudge activities that will change behaviour and is to be led by the children and young people of Camelon and Tamfourhill. The hope is that their parents, family, and carers will acknowledge their creations around the community and will therefore take ownership of the messages and various creations  and that this will change behaviour in a positive way and reinforce the message that we should keep Camelon and Tamfourhill: Tidy, Clean and Green,

Creating messages that encourage positive behaviour change
  • Promote the Power and Preservation of Place:

In relation to both the community  mural and the planned Tidy, Clean & Green  messaging and design projects It will be important that everybody feels that they can contribute as much or as little as is practically possible for that individual or group to both the process and the product, underpinning all of this  is the notion of collective ownership and responsibility. The creativity must begin at where the community is at and what their experiences and aspirations of the place they live actually are, the process will flow and evolve from that starting point. When people become involved in the design, creation, and upkeep of places, they develop a vested interest in using and maintaining these spaces. When they have a true sense of “ownership” or connection to the places they frequent, the community becomes a better place to live, work, and visit. The residents’ feelings of respect and responsibility for the place bonds them to that place and to each other. (5 ways arts projects can improve struggling communities Tom Borrup)

There will be various opportunities to get involved with these community safety projects which are being supported and developed by the Tidy, Clean and Green Community Group and I will keep the website and our social media updated. I hope to be able to bring some more detailed information about a further community safety engagement day at CJFC car park area scheduled for Sunday 30th January 2022 and which will also involve some outdoor activities for families and the launch of the creative messaging project early in the new year

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community

Is Social Media a Community Safety Concern?

I felt it was appropriate to revisit a community safety blog from this time last year when I was very recently collating the responses to the local youth survey. The results suggest that young people feel safe using social media, 81% saying they either always or usually felt safe using various platforms. Many respondents should have been too young to use social media and parental supervision and no access were mentioned on several occasions. The results here may present complacency in terms of community safety especially when some of  the comments left by young people are read and the picture becomes less clear: “Social media is horrible as there is lots of negativity and bullying online , social media is very bad for mental health issues”, ” With Instagram I watch videos of people enjoying their life and when I turn off my life feels incomplete, but I usually feel safe” , ” There is cyber bullying but there is also good stuff about social media”, ” I don’t talk to strangers and block the ones who try to talk to me”, “My parents monitor my online activity quite strictly” & ” I don’t go on anything weird and I work in technology a lot so I am used to knowing what’s safe and what’s not.”   Having spoken to a few local young people last week about this very issue has convinced me that Social Media should be a local community safety concern  and that it can badly affect young people’s mental wellbeing and their physical health. This issue requires further discussions and I therefore  intend to meet with the NHS Health promotions team and other agencies involved in this area so expect some activity in the  future that is focussed upon young people’s safety and wellbeing within the context of Social media, for now let’s revisit some of my blog from December 2020. The difficult choices that we ask our young people to make

How dangerous is social media to the mental well being of our young people?

Social media, just how social is it? and how is it changing our lives and that of the communities? It is quite difficult to get a balanced view about the pros and cons, the benefits and the drawbacks, the uses, and abuses. It is an issue that is particularly relevant to community safety and I am hoping that I will be able to identify some of the main issues that affect young people through the recently launched youth survey. There is however so much misinformation out there and anybody can become confused and stressed by opinions and attitudes which we find difficult to evaluate or identify fact from fiction. The clear positives are the communications and the connectedness that the likes of Facebook and twitter can provide for us, social media for example is an important strand to the current work of the Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill project. The different platforms are extremely effective at getting messages out to the community, highlighting local developments, and involving people directly with current issues. The downside to all this is the potential for bullying and intimidation, spreading nastiness and falsity and undermining positive community activities. Social media is democratic, that is everybody and anybody can contribute to the narrative, however this can open us all up to danger and risk, Have a look at his short film:

Its so easy to cause others problems on social media

You couldn’t imagine that a modern teenagers life could  get any more complicated , but in many respects their lives have become ever more reliant upon  instant gratification with the constant pressures for peer acceptance and once you add in social media, this must become an ongoing stressful experience. Unfortunately for some young people their anxiety levels must go through the roof, their Image, friends and being popular, all accentuated and raised to previously unknown levels through the intense immediacy of social media platforms.  Now I don’t wont to sound over dramatic or cause concern where it is not appropriate , social media is more often than not a good thing , hey rock n Roll had its critics back in the day and I still have my collection of hard core punk vinyl , however young people have always required support and guidance and social media can place an additional burden  on them , their family and the wider community.  The local community safety strategy will be required to have empathy and understanding of these issues, in young people’s terms and as they experience these issues in their language. Local community safety will need to encourage relevant inputs and activities which can reassure parents and family about the welfare of their children when using social media whilst  also  equipping our young people with the confidence and self esteem to make the right decisions in often difficult and contradictory circumstances. I hope that through the youth survey and various focus groups to listen to young people explaining their experiences and concerns about using social media, how might they develop appropriate support, resources and information that would be useful to them and their peers and potentially also their families. I have had recent discussions with Neighbourhood Watch about how they might  make their services and provisions more relevant to young people and how we could better equip young people to deal with the risks that they may face online. This could be a strand of the local community safety strategy where we develop a young people’s scheme which is about them looking out for each other, whether that is online or generally out and about in the community. The key is to empower young people to have responsibility for finding their own solutions to tackle the relevant issues, that way any safety strategy is more likely to be effective. I have indicated in the past the possibility of setting up a Young Community Safety Volunteers Project which would develop and deliver peer information inputs and social media would be one of the key themes that I would like to explore with such a Group. 

Here are some online safety links:

https://young.scot/get-informed/national/four-tips-for-being-safe-on-social-media

https://tutorful.co.uk/guides/how-to-keep-kids-safe-online/social-media-safety

https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/young-people

Top tips for 11-19s

Protect your online reputation: use the services provided to manage your digital footprints and ‘think before you post.’ Content posted online can last forever and could be shared publicly by anyone.

Know where to find help: understand how to report to service providers and use blocking and deleting tools. If something happens that upsets you online, it’s never too late to tell someone.

Do not give in to pressure: if you lose your inhibitions you’ve lost control; once you’ve pressed send you can’t take it back.

Respect the law: use reliable services and know how to legally access the music, film and TV you want.

Acknowledge your sources: use trustworthy content and remember to give credit when using others’ work/ideas.

community

The Canal clear ups and tackling the Climate Emergency

A review of the canal clear up programme and some considerations for moving forward in the long term:

The Projects central aim was to deliver monthly Canal Clear ups and Conservation sessions and to be targeted and made available to local community organisations, groups of young people, schools and youth groups, and local families.  The Project was to be a collaboration and implemented as part of the wider community safety strategy for Camelon and Tamfourhill. The Project was developed and coordinated  by Our Place  through funding provided by the Great Places Falkirk Heritage Lottery Project.  

This was an activity-based Project with a community development ethos, the focus was to clear up the canal, but it was also a means of encouraging involvement and to contribute to the  process of putting the canal at the centre of the community: socially, culturally, and educationally. Additionally, the Project was facilitating a  community education approach with a focus upon environmental awareness and encouraging the local community to have a sense of ownership and responsibility for this historical and culturally significant resource. 

The Project was run for a fixed term period from April – October 2021, and is evaluated in terms of its wider community and environmental  impact and in relation to the learning experiences of the participants. A longer-term consideration is to establish this Programme as a sustainable activity which provides ongoing learning and development  opportunities for local people  and also continues to make a significant contribution to keeping Camelon and Tamfourhill: Tidy, Clean and Green.  

Paddle pick up with local young people

It was good fun in the canoe although it was hard work-my arms were very tired by the end. We could spot the litter but working out how to get to it in the canoe was tricky! I enjoyed people on the tow path saying Hi and thank you to us as we cleaned up the litter. It’s sad how much rubbish had been thrown in but glad I could help to clear it up.  (Hannah Rous: young volunteer)

The Programme and its  outputs: April -October 2021:

Each day was split into 3 distinct stages: Paddle pick up on the water, canal towpath litter pick & Learning evaluation workshops. Certificates of achievement and community volunteering awards were an important aspect of the Project. 76 people took part and everyone received a certificate of achievement, 20 Scottish Government Group challenge Saltire Awards were made and 98 hours of saltire volunteering credits were earned.

Discussing the problems with plastics at Tamfourhill Community Hub

The school pupils responded well to the workshops when they often do not respond positively in classroom learning contexts, they had got a lot out of these sessions and participated really well ( Ankale Denovan: CLD Worker St Mungo’s High School)

Getting instruction on using a canoe

Scottish Canals’ Activities Manager Matt Skilling:

“I have delivered many Paddle Pickups across the Lowlands Canals network since 2017 however this focussed community effort has been outstanding. The group have successfully created a programme of events over the 2021 season.  The group have engaged and involved a variety of local people which has brought a positive environmental impact particularly on the stretch of canal from TFW to Lock 16Scottish Canals’ Activities Manager Matt Skilling:

The Canal project learning workshop brought a conclusion of activity and educational learning around plastics and the impact litter in waterways can have on the environment. Pupils were engaged with discussion about plastics, their uses, why we produce so much of it and how it’s a huge aspect of life (e.g. packaging). Pupils also thought about their own consumption and how they can reduce plastic litter and also plastic waste with some small changes that can be used within their everyday habits. With great discussion and learning about plastic facts with a interactive quiz, pupils gained insight to the consequences of plastic while also relating it to habits and behaviour. The project was a worthwhile experience that brought together a practical activity that benefited the community (canoe litter pick) but also the educational workshop that bridged the activity with the why. The project was well received by the pupils with many asking to do it again.’ Ella Gorman Education Enforcement officer, Waste Management, Falkirk Council

A learning workshop at the Falkirk Wheel

The opportunity to be participants within the canal clear up has given our youth groups the opportunity to engage in a fantastic outdoor learning experience in their own  community.

Some of our young people had never been on the canal before even though it is on their doorstep.

They were able to express their feelings on community issues and put forward their ideas whilst learning new skills  and engaging with other local children.

Tamfourhill youth group

The wider community has enjoyed seeing the local youth participate in litter picks, providing great links for intergenerational work within the community going forward. Lynne Boslem Youth Worker: Tamfourhill Community Hub

An interesting and refreshingly positive aspect of the Canal Clear ups has been the young people’s workshops which have concluded the days clean-up work on both the canal and the towpath. The group who took part on Wednesday 21st July were tasked with thinking about where they lived and the places they played with their friends and to then consider some of the environmental issues at these places and to come up with their own plans and ideas for keeping these special places #tidycleangreen. I was really privileged to hear about all the locations the youngsters went to and were important to them, from the Roman Park in Tamfourhill, the places with the special named stones in Rowen Crescent and the skatepark in Falkirk. The group who were aged 8 -11 years old worked in groups of three or four and  a taste of their ideas  for improving and keeping their special places #tidycleangreen, can be found at this link: .

A group working on their ideas in July

64 individual participant evaluation forms were completed , they were all asked what they had learnt form taking part, here is a brief sample of the responses:

  • How stable the canoes are
  • How many beer cans people throw into the canal
  • The amount of people that smoke
  • Canoeing is not dangerous
  • Putting all he boats together as one
  • Not to be afraid of the water
  • Micro plastics get into the crops on our farms
  • The amount of rubbish me and my partner found
  • The amount of micro plastics in the world
  • It was cleaner than we expected
  • My Xbox has plastic

What was the part they had enjoyed the most?

  • The canoeing or learning how to canoe x 40
  • The Camaraderie
  • Having a McDonalds for lunch
  • The Litter Picking
  • Helping the environment
  • Climbing trees
  • Family time and being part of cleaning up the area
  • The Banter
  • My parents helping out with the clear up
  • Sitting on the canoe collecting plastics
  • Making new friends

90 % of respondents said they would take part in these activities again , and when asked to rate the days activities on a scale of 1-10 the average score was 8

There Is no doubt in my mind that this was a very successful Project, it was an enjoyable learning experience for everyone who took part and community volunteering was recognised  through the Scottish Government’s Saltire Awards and also with certificates of achievement  being awarded to all participants. The positive impact upon the  canal  between lock 16 and The Falkirk Wheel has been notable, and this has been acknowledged by the wider community encouraging many to take an interest in this project. Local people made positive comments from the tow path during the sessions and this support was also expressed through social media.  The canal is a key aspect to the local community and to see local people connecting with it positively in this way and within the context of the local community safety strategy has been a rewarding and very worthwhile experience. The climate emergency and the requirement to move towards  Net Zero should accentuate the  significant role that can be played by the canal and that this needs to  involve the local community. Community safety is integrally linked with environmental improvement,  and  it is therefore advisable that the existing partners and other stakeholders  meet in the coming weeks to examine how they can resource and support a longer term #tidycleangreen project based around the canal network

This Programme was supported by the following agencies & organisations :

  • Tamfourhill Community Hub
  • Scottish Canals
  • Carmuirs Primary School
  • St. Mungo’s High School
  • Forth Valley Recovery Community
  • The Conservation Volunteers
  • Tidy, Clean & Green Community Group
  • Falkirk Council Waste Management
  • Great Place Falkirk
  • Our Place Camelon & Tamfourhill
Introducing a group to their canal clear up day
community

Young Peoples Voices are being listened too and their priorities for community safety need to now  be supported.

A key outcome of the Community Safety Strategy is that  Young people will have increased opportunities to have their voices heard about the issues that affect their safety within the community, and within this I gave an undertaking that there will be ongoing consultation and engagement with young people through  streetwork contact, youth surveys and through the formation of a Young Peoples Community Safety Focus Group. I have therefore spent time over the spring and  into autumn being out and about pounding the  highways and byways of Camelon and Tamfourhill. You may have read some of my earlier blogs highlighting the Cookouts in the Parks  and the street-based sessions and some of the details about those conversations  that I have had with young people at Nailer Road Park, Easter Carmuirs Park, at lock 16 and at the MUGA on Mariner Street.

Young people need to be involved with making the community safer .

Although I haven’t yet been able to establish a young people’s focus group, I have begun to analyse the youth survey responses and similarly collated the  detailed recordings from  the streetwork sessions. I am now able to summarise the many voices of local young people  and highlight  the main  issues that have so far been confirmed through these engagement activities.

Let’s briefly look at the Youth Survey responses: I received 77 completed and partially completed surveys, 73% of respondents were between the ages of 12-18 years old, 51% were females, 47% Male and 2% stated they were neither. The important data showed that 73% of young people felt either always or  usually safe when they were out and about in the local area, of concern however are the 27% who only either feel safe sometimes or unfortunately rarely or never.  The important considerations for young people if they are outside and using facilities like MUGAS or the park are that there should be no bullying , 65% considered this to be either very or quite important , the locations should be light up and the facilities themselves required to be of a good standard with little mess or littering. The top five community safety concerns for young people were , and in this order of significance: 1: Gangs and violence, 2. Bullying, 3 Their Personal Safety , 4 Drug and substance use and 5. Alcohol. Young people sited three methods or places where they would want to learn more about these community safety concerns, and in this order, they were: 1: School, 2: In workshops with their friends and 3: In a youth group or club or 4: online through accessing websites.

A key consideration derived from the survey results for young people’s safety in the community is that outdoor activities or places where they meet up should be at light up locations and where there is no bullying and with these places having  little mess or litter. Young people felt most safe when they were with friends they knew and trusted , thus strong peer relationships are  a significant factor in young people’s perceptions and experiences of being and feeling safe throughout Camelon and Tamfourhill.

My period of street engagement was interesting and insightful and involved a wide and diverse range of discussions , I very much appreciated young people’s willingness to discuss issue openly and honestly and to give myself and colleagues respect and trust through these engagements.   Some topics were of a very sensitive nature and some issues should be of  concern to the wider community and other agencies. I noted on several occasions that young people lacked knowledge of certain issues like alcohol and substance use and were unaware of risk taking and the  consequences of taking or consuming different substances for themselves and their families. There was no obvious source of support, advice, or places where they would feel they could access such services or support. A recurring concern highlighted in several discussions was mental health and wellbeing and a need for appropriate  local support and advice  Taking these discussions and survey findings I am proposing some areas of youth development. These provisional proposals are concerned  with  improving young people’s  safety through  reducing risk taking by  providing new opportunities for young people to engage  with positive and healthy  activities, provide community development opportunities  and enable young people to access appropriate  support, information, and advice.

Consultation with young people will need to be ongoing and participative

This is a provisional or draft set  of proposals, and the details will need to be worked through, but its safe to say that future youth activity will be couched in a community development context and that community involvement will be underpinning any youth strategy. This approach will ensure that new  youth activities are going to be  driven by local community safety priorities and the aspirations of  young people.

  • There needs to be safe outdoor activity programmes operating throughout Camelon & Tamfourhill, the activities will need to be based upon young people’s existing interests and they will  require  to be supported locally so that they are long term and sustainable. In the first instance, through a  grant awarded by the Camelon Sports Hub we will be piloting a Programme of Twilight Sports sessions which will operate on a Friday evening , after school and run into the early evening, will be targeted at 10-16 years old and will take place at MUGAS and parks in Camelon & Tamfourhill, the Pilot Programme will run from December to March 2022.
  • Linked to the above proposal is the need to negotiate the involvement of young people at key locations with  programmes of outdoor learning and personal development opportunities.
  • Its critically important that we support young people with planned community development projects at Camelon Juniors Car park, Easter Carmuirs  MUGA situation and other initiatives , they require an input and sense of ownership of emerging or developing community development projects.
  • Establish youth information resources, support, information, and advice services for young people with a particular focus upon mental wellbeing and providing reliable information about personal risk taking. There may be potential opportunities to progress this with the support of NHS Health Promotions.
  • Implement a programme of detached youth work throughout Camelon and Tamfourhill and to be focused on locations where young people are at risk of getting involved with anti-social behaviour and risk-taking behaviour, it should be targeted at 14+ years and be linked to support around substance and alcohol issues and the negotiation of activity programmes as described above.
  • A young people’s Focus Group should be established which utilises youth friendly versions of the Place Standard Tool in order to carry out peer research and make recommendations for the development of local facilities and youth provisions. This will also provide valuable insight into young people’s aspiration for the development of their local community.   
  • Look for opportunities to establish a supported pathway for young people to get into employment and training and target those young people furthest away form the employment pipeline.

At this stage this is a direction of travel rather than a detailed  plan, it is in part aspirational but is in the main deliverable. I would welcome comments and contributions and off course the involvement of  local volunteers will be essential as will a buy in from statutory agencies and services in order to realise the different aspects of this youth focused community safety initiative.
 I will provide details about the Twilight Sports sessions when we are ready to kick off the pilot project, hopefully early next month.  

community

How will climate change Impact upon Community Safety ?

A very topical  question as Glasgow is now engrossed in COP26 and the Climate Emergency dominates our media both social and mainstream. The old adage think Global act local seems extremely  relevant and undoubtedly the impact of our environmental  actions locally will affect the planet wholesale, but equally worrying is how that initial local impact then bounces back to bite us all in the bahookie a second time. The mess in our streets can  make our daily lives miserable and hazardous but the bigger story is how that detritus then ends up in our waterways and the  oceans and then ultimately in our food chain and then it comes back to our community to poison ourselves and our families through our diets, other consumptions and the quality of the air and environment around us.

Back in April of this year I supported a groups of young people from Camelon and Tamfourhill to take part in canal clear up day which  also involved an environmental learning workshop , let’s look back to an earlier blog when I noted the following:  A recurring theme throughout the Canal clear ups was how our littering actions locally actually impact upon the world globally and then come back to affect the quality of our lives locally. A big circle of environmental damage and pollution that will affect every one of us in our daily lives. The young people who took part in the workshop sessions held at Tamfourhill Community Hub came up with highly creative ideas about how we can start to reduce the damage that we are causing by our constant use and dependency upon plastics. Their ideas are detailed in this blog of 20th April 2021 https://opcamelontamfourhill.co.uk/2021/04/20/

Young people pondering how they can stop the climate crises.

It is rather disturbing when you take a moment to reflect upon how climate change will affect the communities of Camelon and Tamfourhill; Climate Change will significantly impact upon our :safety in the outdoors, our safety in the home and upon our personal health and  wellbeing, I attended a recent community safety webinar and here is a concerning list drawn up by the participants of how climate change will affect us locally:

  • Regular flooding of our homes and streets and communal spaces like parks.
  • Increased spread of disease through broken sanitation and sewage systems.
  • Accidents and drownings through flooding.
  • A significant increase to the cost of our home insurance.
  • Erosion of the land and fertility of the soil.
  • Disruption to our transport networks and infrastructures greatly reducing our mobility and connectedness.
  • Wildfires and the  destruction of forests.
  • Unsafe and polluted  beaches.
  • Civil unrest, increase  in criminality and anti-social behaviour.
  • Isolation, mental health issues and a higher incidence of drug and alcohol dependency.
  • Harder to access health and social care services.
  • Economic disruption leading to unemployment and  increased levels of poverty.

I think I will stop there as this list is extensive and to be honest never ending , these circumstances get worse as these affects will not be experienced universally as those already disadvantaged by inequalities:  in health, poor housing and poverty will be much worse affected by the climate emergency than those geographic areas and communities that are socially and economically better off. In other words, If you live in an already socially and economically  disadvantaged community then to use a rather unfortunate and overused cliché: this is the perfect storm.  

Cop 26 in Glasgow offers some hope of dialogue with resultant  action on a global macro level, but in terms of community safety we also need to be taking local actions immediately and with absolute urgency. I would want to positively  emphasise  that as individuals, families, and communities that we can be a part of the solution and that we can play a critical role in bringing about the changes that our planet requires through our immediate local actions. The current crises impacts on us locally, but the solutions involve actions at distinct levels , the solutions to this Climate Crises are therefore  dynamic and interdependent:

  • Macro, Global  & Structural : This is where the onus is on national governments ,however  we must ensure they act and listen to our concerns and demands. Multinational companies and governments (local & national )  must be held to account , it’s  the current economic system versus  the planet, as individuals and communities we must keep pressure on the decision makers and our elected representatives from Community Councils, the Local Authorities and through to our governments in Edinburgh and London. We need greater fairness, and we need to combat poverty and inequality , we need economic and climate justice for our most vulnerable  local communities.
  • Local: & Community:  The actions we take locally are critically important and we can look no further than to some of the ideas and strategies identified by the young people who took part in our canal clear up workshops for a source of direct action and activity. The establishment of our #tidycleangreen group (https://opcamelontamfourhill.co.uk/tidycleangreen/ ) is an excellent example of the types of activity that we need in order  to look after our communal green spaces and parks, to tidy them up and keep  them greener and cleaner thus facilitating sustainability and greater biodiversity. Community growing projects and establishing local food production and distribution networks can contribute to combating poverty especially  through aligning these initiatives with the local food pantry’s. As a community we can  encourage positive  behaviour change through promoting  positive nudge activities, and this particular approach will be addressed locally in the near future  through the #tidycleangreen groups creative messaging project which has been made possible through the funds the Group secured from the Councils Environmental Improvement Fund.  Local youth workers and community activists can take part in carbon literacy training, and we can then start to run our Community Hubs and buildings on a net zero basis, reducing our carbon footprints and delivering services locally that are sustainable and have no negative environmental impacts. An opportunity currently exists  through the Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP) The  application process is now open and  Keep Scotland Beautiful will be  supporting several communities to develop their own unique plan to address the climate emergency. Full details can be found here: https://www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/news/oct-2021/applications-for-community-climate-action-plan-programme-now-open/ The programme will involve a set of workshops with community members, empowering them to find opportunities for climate action in all areas of community life. 
  • Individual & personal: This  is about changes to our own behaviours and everyday actions,  and this is where the  process of community and societal change often begins ,this can be about recycling or upcycling, taking part in a litter pick or some guerrilla gardening , it might involve campaigning work or just ensuring we separate  our rubbish out for the appropriate bin collections.

Here are some useful  links which are especially relevant as Scotland and Glasgow hosts cop26 for the next 2 weeks:

Links and further information from  :

https://www.iacdglobal.org/2021/11/01/

https://www.gov.scot/news/cop26/

https://www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/community-and-place/cop26-scottish-youth-climate-programme/

https://www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/keep-scotland-beautiful-at-cop26/

https://www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/climate-change/climate-change/climate-emergency-training/

community

Community Safety activities this October Holidays.

Thanks to McDonalds on Glasgow Road for sponsoring our recent litter pick

Tamfourhill Youth Group with the assistance of McDonalds Restaurants on Glasgow Road carried out a litter pick at the Juniors Car Park on the morning of Wednesday 13th October, and this was greatly appreciated as it fully prepared that location for the Gather and Play event scheduled for the Friday. The Group worked tirelessly  to clear the area of rubbish. McDonalds who are taking their commitment to keeping Camelon and Tamfourhill #tidycleangreen very seriously and they awarded the group and the volunteers with a complimentary lunch and drink back at the restaurant. A big think you to Rachael at McDonalds for her hospitality and also thanks to the hard work of herself and staff team to help the youth group rid the CJFC car park of detritus , rubbish and fly tipping, and yes, we did find a McDonald’s drinks cartoon in the bushes, and it was duly removed and binned.   

After the Group were fully fed and watered, we all walked up through Easter Carmuirs Park to the Falkirk Wheel where the group would conclude the programme of canal clear ups which had been funded though the Great Place Falkirk Heritage Lottery Project. The Canal Clear ups had begun back in April of this year and have run consistently throughout the year with groups from the local schools: Carmuirs Primary, St Mungo’s Secondary, Youth Groups from Tamfourhill Community Hub along with a family group and a delegation from the Forth Valley Recovery community that have all participated and made a massive contribution to keeping the canal and the  towpaths #tidycleangreen.

The October Paddle Pick up with the Tamfourfhill Youth Group

Credit is especially due to the Spar stores on Camelon Main Street who have made a very generous donation to the catering at the Gather and Play day and also the Community Fun Day in Easter Carmuirs Park , and McDonalds restaurants who have supported two recent community litter picks and provided tremendous hospitality for the young volunteers

The autumnal sun shone on a day of greening , creativity and safe place making at the car park area of Camelon Juniors Football Club. The location  historically has  had a negative reputation for anti-social behaviour, so the Community Safety Event: Gather & Play was organised to encourage a new perception and experience of how the location could be used safely and redeveloped for the betterment of the local community.  Camelon Arts Project facilitated workshops which focused upon  hands on creativity that identified themes which could be further developed into local permanent public art works , they also provided  tote bag designing and a display of local peoples sign writing and these activities all contributed to the days creative themes. A community artist led an all Games Allowed session which involved inventing new streets games and the Tidy, Clean and Green Group provided a pop-up park with children’s games and a bulb planting stall. There was a very informative stall form Frog life,  and the staff and young learners form Camelon Early Years and Childcare centre had a detailed exhibition of their community involvement.

Camelon Juniors Social Club provided everybody who attended with a fabulous lunch, and this was a magnificent catering effort to feed and water the 150 plus local people who came to take part in the days programme. 

Hospitality in the Camelon Juniors Social club, thanks to the SPAR on the Main Street Camelon for their generous donation for the catering

The Community Safety Engager form the Our Place Camelon & Tamfourhill Project facilitated a participative workshop where young people , children and families could discuss and offer their s  visions and aspirations for the making the area safer and to also consider how the location could be transformed from being a community safety  problem into a positive community asset.  A prominent theme was the need for a safe play area for younger children and suggestions as to how the area could be better landscaped to include a seated relaxed social space but also with an area where children could build dens and have safe adventurous  play in the  outdoors. Traffic concerns and the dangers of children having to play in the nearby streets was raised consistently and it was highlighted that local people and other agencies could work together with the aim of  addressing these issues, realise aspirations and form partnerships which could  enable some of these community safety priorities to be successfully and creatively resolved.

Community safety workshop with local young people

Work will continue and further community meetings and activities will be arranged which encourages ongoing discussions and also brings people together to consider a plan of action so that some of these community aspirations for the Camelon Juniors Car Park  might be realised. This is the start of a journey, and the Our Place project will be there to support local people to take whatever course of action they feel is the most appropriate and useful.

For further information or to get more involved please contact: John R Hosie: Community Safety Engager for Our Place Camelon & Tamfourhill on 07391524528 or email at:  communitysafetyengager@tamfourhilltro.co.uk 

community

Gather and Play: A Community Safety Event:

A hands-on day of games, greening, safe place making and art

Friday 15th October 11am-4pm at Camelon Juniors Football Ground Car Park

Food & Drink will be provided free of charge.

 

The Camelon Juniors Football Club Car Park and its immediate environs have historically been viewed as a problematic area for the local community with a longstanding high incidence of anti-social behaviour . The situation was exacerbated last year when a fire badly damaged a container within the football ground which was being used as a temporary changing room facility due to the COVID pandemic. This concern for the location and the security of the football club were consistent themes that were raised through the local community safety consultations that took place throughout 2020 and early 2021, and in response to these specific community safety concerns  a multi-agency group was convened by Falkirk Council to look at strategic solutions for both the security of the football club and improving the location for the benefit of the wider community. The local community safety strategy  advocates a partnership approach with a focus upon community-based solutions and in this context, it was advocated that:  a community engagement and development process involving all the local stakeholders  was required as this would be  the most effective way of transforming the space from being a negative location into a community asset

The Our Place Camelon & Tamfourhill Community Safety Engager therefore  began an engagement process with the key stakeholders.

 A tenants survey took place in  Jan/Feb 2021 which  confirmed that local tenants would like to see the area transformed through creative and green projects. The football club were supportive of this approach and in particular were keen to see the perimeter wall of the Football ground upgraded in a creative way and to encourage the wider community to participate with that process.

Throughout May/July 2021 further audits of the spaces  and consultations with stakeholders and local tenants  took place to collect views and ideas as to  how that location could be reimagined, redeveloped, and better used. This included children’s street games taking place on the car park and an ongoing commitment from the Tidy, clean and Green Group and the Forth Valley Recovery Community to keep the area cleared of litter and dog mess and further support form Falkirk Council has seen the installation of temporary CCTV and the clearance of the overgrown area next to the canal towpath. 

This Area could become a community asset as opposed to being a community safety concern.

The sustainable long-term solution to this area will necessitate a collaborative approach and with the involvement and commitment of the Camelon Arts Project, along with Our Place Camelon & Tamfourhill, The Tidy, Clean & Green Group and community artist Mark Bleakley’s  All Games Allowed Project, the next phase of this engagement process will take place on Friday 15th October when there will be the Gather & Play Community Safety Event:  This will involve a day of drop-in creative workshops and games, cleaning and greening, and temporary interventions at Camelon Junior’s car park .This is a bit of a taste and try day where local people can come and experience some of the ideas that have already been suggested  to improve the car park and its surrounding area: The drop-in event will run from 11am – 4pm and will include the following workshops from Camelon Arts:

  • All Games Allowed with Mark Bleakley
  • Tote bag printing with Alice Dansey-Wright
  • Mural painting workshop based upon the football grounds perimeter wall with Gregor Horne & Theo Christy (Gallery Malmo)
  • A temporary exhibition of Canal College Artists’ sign paintings
  • The launch of our Camelon and Tamfourhill calendar.

In addition

  • The Tidy, Clean & Green Community Group  will host their first pop up park with children’s games, and this will  provide an opportunity for families and children to experience what a safe play area and family social space might be like at that location.
  • There will be food and drink provided free of charge,
  • A great prize can be won  for a day out at the Falkirk Wheel.
All Games Are Allowed

Most importantly the Event will provide opportunities for further discussions and engagement  to take place with the community safety engager, Camelon Arts , the supporting artists, the Tidy, Clean and Green Group  and with Falkirk Council. The longer-term aim is to establish a community  agreed plan which will contribute to making this area safer, and to also listen to peoples wider aspirations for their neighbourhood, hopefully the Gather & Play approach will inspire more  local people to get directly involved with that community development process.