Through the Local Conversation, Roma residents tackled things that have a big impact on people’s lives and health in Govanhill, such as having a better understanding their rights, and access to fair employment opportunities and quality housing.

Three young people stand in front of a wall of photography

The Local Conversation in Govanhill was supported by Community Renewal Trust which leads on community projects across Scotland. They previously ran a community canteen in Govanhill which became a central pillar for the Local Conversation. The canteen was already well used in the community, and it provided a good opportunity to engage with local residents.

At the outset, a group of residents knocked on doors and asked their neighbours questions to find out about their aspirations and ideas for the area in an informal but engaging way.

One of the things that came out of these conversations was the importance of social and cultural activities - having somewhere to go to have social interactions and to meet new people.

Other things that people said were important included reducing communication barriers which impact upon peoples’ ability to access employment and training, housing and the physical environment. These have gone on to become included in the priorities of the Local Conversation in Govanhill.

The Local Conversation has since engaged a large number of volunteers and set up resident-led initiatives such as a Community Forum, a men’s group, a volunteer group, a youth group, a sewing club, and a dance group. Most recently, young people have become a big priority for the Local Conversation with a specific focus on climate change.

Through this priority, young leaders have been developed and have taken on responsibility for organising other young people in the area to take action to tackle climate change. One young leader wrote about the youth project here and you can watch their video on preparing for COP26 here.

Through support residents have boosted the confidence and skills which has enabled them to take greater control over decisions impacting them. As well as activity groups and forums, the residents have made strong ties and are using their community power to make representations to the local council for better infrastructure and support.

I started as a translator because one of the biggest challenges faced by the community is the language barrier. It was the first time I ever had a paid job that wasn’t manual. I developed my knowledge and skills which gave me confidence and opportunities. I have now applied for college and want to go to university after that.

Marek Balog

Resident and Project Lead

Funded by People’s Health Trust using money raised by Health Lottery Scotland