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The GalGael Trust

Facts & Figures

Organisation Name

The GalGael Trust

People Benefiting

90 - 110 people per year as direct participants. Many more access gathering opportunities like weekly Thursday Thurs-dos where up to 50 people, many participants returning with family and friends, work on creative projects, share food & play music.

Area Served

Greater Govan & surrounding areas




As the tide went out on the shipbuilding history of Govan, many families in the community were left without work and meaning.  Modern Govan has been left high and dry by this post-industrial legacy; roots are being lost, values are becoming blurred, and the fast-flowing current of modern life is leaving many behind.  GalGael was founded in 1997 and has worked since then to create a cultural anchor point around which local people are re-kindling skills, community and a sense of purpose.

GalGael offer hospitality to the marginalised, a sense of place to the disconnected and the right of responsibility to the disenfranchised. They offer a chisel so that even the unskilled can carve out a future.

Legal Form

Company limited by guarantee with charitable status.


32 regular volunteers with 15-20 involved each day.


10 staff in total of which 2 are part time.

Earned Income

£78,070 (20%) in 2011/12


GalGael’s main physical assets are Fairley Street, comprising 11,000sq feet of internal workshop with exterior workshop, and related plant and equipment.

Value of assets

Book value of assets is around £335,000

Roots & Links


GalGael describe their origins as follows;

‘The GalGael Trust developed from an environmental campaign in one of the most deprived areas of Glasgow.  By the end of the campaign we had learned many things about how to make community in a difficult space, how to take responsibility and articulate our concerns. Our vehicle to take forward what we’d learned crystalised as the GalGael Trust in 1995. Colin Macleod, our founder, was clear about this not being “setting up a charity” but rather “reconvening peoplehood”. This guided our choice of name. GalGael, or its Gaelic spelling Gal Gaidheal, were a historic ethnic mix of peoples.

By the 9th Century, the Norse were so settled in parts of Celtic Scotland that they became known as the GalGael – the “Gall” being the foreigner, and the “Gael” being the original heartland Gaelic people. Our use of this name recognises that there is a bit of a stranger and a bit of the native in us all and embraces culturally inclusive notions of belonging.

The GalGael of history were associated with the iconic birlinn or Hebridean galley that became our emblem. We quickly realised we could achieve many of our social, cultural and ecological objectives by actually involving communities in building boats.’



GalGael’s 10 directors are elected annually from the membership of the organisation.  Membership is open to all who share GalGael’s aims and involves good representation from the local community who actively participate in our AGMs.

Community Links

Beyond their Fairley Street base, GalGael have participated in events up and down the country from the local Govan Fair to Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival on the Moray Firth and Portpatrick Festival on the Rhins of Galloway.

GalGael have also been involved in local initiatives such as Govan Together and the Govan Folk University.

They also work to create links with communities beyond Govan that “reconnect coastal communities” and link urban and rural society in Scotland. To this end they have a rural base on Loch Aweside where they are establishing a base for exploring personal, cultural and ecological restoration and rehabilitation.


External Links

The work of GalGael is gaining increasing recognition, particularly from those interested in asset based approaches, such as Glasgow Centre for Population Health and Sir Harry Burns (Chief Medical Officer for Scotland).  GalGael featured as case study in the recent SURF Reality, Resilience and Resources report and also in the Afternow Project led by Phil Hanlon, Professor of Public Health at the University of Glasgow.

GalGael are member of the Community Woodlands Association.



Physical Hub

Fairley Street is a hub of creativity and practical activity functioning both as a workshop and a venue for regular and one-off community events – such as a weekly community meal.

Builds Local Capacity

GalGael have developed a unique ethos and approach that they articulate as follows;

‘At GalGael, we have created a cultural anchor point around which local people are re-kindling skills, community and a sense of purpose.

GalGael provides learning experiences anchored in practical activities that offer purpose and meaning.

We provide a space that serves as something of a safe harbour for those whose lives have been battered by storms such as worklessness, depression or addiction.

We offer a workplace that challenges, inspires and creates the conditions conducive to learning; a space where mistakes are not only made but owned as our best teachers, where issues are left at the door and new identities forged.’


Delivers Services

GalGael’s approach reflects an understanding that is distinct from the dominant model of employability as a straight-line progression recognising that an individuals’ journey towards employment and also that of personal progression are largely cyclical. The services they deliver strive to serve the pattern of need this generates. They see themselves more as part of the co-production model in that they strive to co-deliver services and explore models of co-production that provide individuals with opportunities to move beyond being passive recipients of services in to proactive participants in their own development and progression.

Journey On:  In GalGael’s own words, ‘seeks to reconnect people with the best within themselves through positive learning journeys grounded in practical activity. Activities like working on producing a range of wooden products or working alongside crafts-folk to handcraft furniture, cooking in the kitchen, processing Scottish timber or helping out at a range of public events. These learning journeys are enriched by wider activities like boat building, rowing, rural skills, community and creative projects.’

Volunteering: Currently, GalGael’s regular and occasional volunteers, contribute on average 200 hours a week between them to enhance and extend the support for participants.  GalGael recognise the value of volunteering and are working to develop this area further.

Barmaddy:  GalGael are currently restoring a farmhouse in Argyll that will provide a permanent rural context for their learning community with a focus on resilience, rural and outdoor skills and regeneration of land and buildings as participation and learning opportunities.

Social enterprise activities include:

Craft. GalGael sells a range of small craft products online.

Timber. GalGael hold stock of both air dried and kiln dried Scottish hardwood timber.

Bespoke Furniture. Associate ‘Makers’ design and build commissioned pieces of furniture.

Boat Building. GalGael are involved in community boat-building as well as private commissions.

Firewood.  Sales of surplus/off-cut timber.

Events and Marquee. Displays of traditional crafts, demonstrations and marquee hire.

Develops/Manages Services

In addition to the premises at Fairley Street, GalGael are currently restoring a farmhouse at Barmaddy in Argyll.

Main Achievements

445 people completed their Navigate Life project that ran for 6 years up to 2012 and provided the model from which Journey On was developed.

GalGael’s work is integrated with the emerging focus on asset based approaches to health in Scotland and has been used as an exemplar of good practice in this area. Understanding Glasgow featured GalGael’s work as part of a study and on film. GalGael’s work has also been referenced by the Afternow project in a scholarly journal which also used our work as an example of best practice. GalGael are really keen to build on this so that they co-produce real transformative changes for the people they work alongside.

Community boat builds include a 12ft model of a traditional Hebridean galley, or birlinn, and 2 full size 30ft birlinn’s.

Other achievements include; completion of a number of timber-framing projects including our original workshop, rowing and participation in the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project, numerous community projects including; 10-week courses for a Gorbals addiction project, Alness Mothers Against Drugs, Ross-shire, boat project on Arran and others; facilitating significant community participation in nationwide events, including; Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival and initiating a new annual event; Sail and Oar Festival on Cumbrae; involvement in various public art commissions and projects including; Govnu’s Hoose art installation at Bellahouston Park and Bannockburn Youth Shelter.

What Next

Biggest Challenge

Achieving financial sustainability through increased social enterprise activities.

Balancing on-going financial pressures with ensuring quality and continuity of the work.

Lesson Learned

That one of the most transformative experiences that we offer people is opportunities to experience the potential value of their contribution and contexts where that contribution is valued. That the space of respect and purposeful activity we create is as important as the activities themselves in terms of participant outcomes. To continue to grow your ethos and culture on a similar scale to other investments in organisational development.


To develop a model of work that offers real transformative and sustainable change for the people and the community we serve. To establish an organisational model that achieves self-reliance financially at the same time as supporting individuals to acquire the capacity for self-reliance.



Gehan Macleod


Programme Director

Address Line 1

The GalGael Trust, 15 Fairley Street

Address Line 2

Govan, G51 2SN




Glasgow, City of


0141 427 4551