Meet the Glasgow Girls

13 February 2019 | Scotland

Scotstoun

Community centre saved by inspirational group of Glaswegian women.

An inspirational group of women have breathed fresh life to a much loved community centre in Glasgow. Financial challenges almost brought the Heart of Scotstoun centre to the brink of closure. But after a superwoman effort, the team who organise weekly food collections, community meals and sort fundraising have ensured its future - for now.

They want to create a Britain where people, and the communities they live in, can thrive together. 

Maria Fletcher, 41, a mother of two, acts as chair and has helped run the centre for 14 years while simultaneously working as an EU law lecturer at Glasgow University. 

She said: “I’d like to think we offer a sanctuary for the community. I am passionate about the work I do and feel a sense of responsibility to the community to continue.”

The inclusive centre, which has been open since 2004, makes a massive difference to the local area. Volunteer May McKie runs the Hands of Scotstoun, knitting and sewing club as well as the Hearties Seniors Lunch club every Friday which hosts around 35 older folk. She is ably helped by Christine Turkington, who also helps out on reception and whose skills in fundraising have proved such a life-saver for the centre. 

For local families of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, the centre provides a much-needed ADHD parent support group run by Tracy Young.  

The Balmoral Street building is also home to a vibrant community café which provides home-cooked meals. Marie de Souza, famous for her legendary lentil soup, runs the kitchen. The cafe is one of dozens of charities and groups to receive food from FareShare's Glasgow distribution centre and feeds hundreds of people every week, many for free, as well as hosting clubs and events. 

Meanwhile, in the garden, retired education lecturer and volunteer June Mitchell overseas the mini allotments which grow food for the kitchen and to donate. June also led the centre’s Green Garden project gardeners, to transform a derelict space into a beautiful new Peace Garden to mark the area’s first tribute to the men and women of the area whose lives were affected by the First World War.

Run by 24 volunteers and five staff, of who only two are men, the women of the Heart of Scotstoun are true troopers. After a perilous few years, three years Lottery funding was recently secured which Maria hopes means they can reach their full potential.

“We are a strong bunch of women. And after a challenging few years, we are finally looking upwards to thrive,” said Maria. “We can’t change the world but we can make a difference to this part of Glasgow and just want to be able to realise the original vision for our centre – to create a safe and welcoming space for everyone. There is always more to be done."

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