I had a great time meeting the folks at Community Renewal Scotland. Sheila McWhirter, Sean Connor and Archie Lowe took me through all the work they are doing across East Edinburgh and the projects specifically focused on Magdalene and Bingham.
They have a holistic approach which involves employability services for all but also a focus on supporting young people into employment and other positive outcomes such as training, education or volunteering. They have a Health Case Manager who offers individually tailored support from counselling to referrals. They also work with communities, listening to what they want and then helping people connect and become active and find ways to achieve change. This is what they have been doing in Magdalene and Bingham and they are now looking at how to build on the response from the community.
We then went on a mini tour meeting Sandra Millar, Sandra Seaton, Corrine Griffiths and Linda McCrudden at the Bingham Community Centre where they were busy making sandwiches for the kids. I managed to have a good chat about the work they are doing and their plans for the future even with over 20 kids running around. They also organise the Bingham & District 50 Plus Project which tries to address issues of isolation for older people – I am hoping to get down to visit that later in the month.
From there we went to Magdalene Community Centre and met Rab Hogg Jnr and Susan Ferguson who are doing a power of work with young people in the area. Their youth strategy project involves a year-long programme with local kids, building team-working skills and encouraging self-belief. This leads to an outward bound week away that gives confidence and skills. They also run regular drop-in sessions.
We ended up in the magnificent Magdalene Community Garden which is only a year old but full of fresh produce. Liz McMahon showed me round plots bursting with beetroot, potatoes, sprouts and much more. I then chatted to Lisa Goddard, Jodie Crozier and Krystal McMahon about how much the garden has made a difference to the area, the sense of community and improved the space which was just a patch of grass before. I even got to try the strawberries!
Four weeks ago I was worried about writing this column on the eve of the last major parliamentary debate on Brexit. Anything could have happened, rendering my speculation obsolete by the time you read it. I shouldn’t have fretted. Anything could have happened but nothing did.
Here I am again. Groundhog day. It’s Tuesday. There’s a big debate tomorrow.
Tuesday. Another day spent discussing Brexit. Another day of my life I’m not getting back.
We are no further forward. As the clock ticks down to exit it’s only fair to ask: What the hell is Theresa May playing at?
Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn MP
Leader of the Labour Party