Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

November 16, 2011

Not such an odd couple

At first glance it seems like the most unlikely of partnerships.  Two communities in very different parts of the country – Lochboisdale in South Uist and Govan – are taking the first steps towards forming a twinning agreement which both believe could reap long term benefits.  Despite their obvious differences, both believe the deep rooted social and economic problems afflicting both areas gives them a shared understanding of each other and a common purpose

Two communities with deep-rooted social and economic problems are said to be bridging the urban-rural divide by forming a partnership.

People from Govan, Glasgow and South Uist in the Hebrides are developing a twinning arrangement, supported by Oxfam, to share ideas and experiences of how to create “opportunities” for their respective communities.

Both areas have high unemployment, a shortage of training opportunities, inequality and fuel poverty. The general feeling in both areas is that people lack power and influence.

Members of the Lochboisdale Amenity Trust travelled from South Uist to visit projects in Govan.

The trust, where Oxfam’s work is funded by the Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund, spent time at the Gal Gael scheme in Govan. It uses the area’s shipbuilding history to keep traditional skills alive and raise the confidence of socially and economically excluded people. A similar scheme may be established on South Uist.

The members also visited T-in-the-Pot, a drop-in centre for women in Govan, and Sunny Govan Radio which has been broadcasting online for almost 10 years.

Tam McGarvey, from Gal Gael, said: “Sadly, many people in Govan feel it has become an island within Glasgow: cut off from prosperity, job opportunities and, all too often, hope. We know that can change and look forward to learning from the islanders from South Uist. We also hope they can learn from us.

“At Gal Gael we help teach people traditional shipbuilding skills. We believe it’s helping to rebuild this community and to give those who come here a sense of purpose. Our boats serve as a powerful metaphor for transformation.”

Jim Boyle, from Oxfam Scotland, said: “The problems holding back urban Govan are remarkably similar to those facing rural South Uist. But while the challenges are often common, so too are many of the solutions.

“Individually, these communities are making real strides forward. We believe sharing their experiences and ideas can fast-track community empowerment and regeneration in both.”