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Case studies

Community Growing and Glasgow Wood Recycling

Glasgow Landscape Architects ERZ in partnership with Glasgow Wood Recycling, are providing fantastically designed reclaimed wood kits that allow gardening areas to flourish in otherwise unused and derelict spaces.

The main driving force behind the projects Plans of outdoor space created by erzis to create dynamic, vibrant and visually appealing spaces for Glasgow residents to grow their own produce in a community environment. Alongside communities, the projects are now envisioned and created between ERZ, who specialise in urban landscape design and their main kit contractors, Glasgow Wood Recycling.

The projects have been a great success at a number of locations around Glasgow, including at Greyfriars Garden in the Merchant City; at Gartnavel Hospital - a site available to long-stay patients, and the Possil Concrete Garden that won a coveted Scottish Design Award, and was subsequently described by the judges as a “beacon of hope for the future”. With the plans being created and designed by ERZ, the work has been commissioned to the Glasgow Wood Recycling workshop where the team of tradesmen work alongside a number of volunteers to start creating the planters, shelters and growing spaces necessary for projects. The modular design of the installation is easily translated to the process of wood recycling, with GWR using a mixture of reclaimed timber and reclaimed whisky barrels to create the planting spaces needed for the large-scale projects. The projects are also designed to be mobile, and if the space is needed for development the whole infrastructure can be moved to a new plot.

The projects seek to help bring Plans of outdoor space created by erzcommunities together, engage them in growing and planting and help educate about sustainable growth, with the reward of fresh produce at the end of the day. The projects have also allowed workshops to take place, such as ‘Winter Planting’ and ‘Wildlife and Weeds’, which have been successful in providing further education for the community. It has also been suggested as a great outdoor learning environment for school pupils, as sustainable and healthy living becomes ever more prevalent. Being able to divert wood from landfill and being able to recycle it in such a way to create vibrant spaces is fundamental to what GWR seeks to achieve.

The partnership with ERZ has allowed GWR to show social enterprise exhibiting its aptitude and skill in creating large-scale projects whilst still maintaining a high level of quality and value. All of this allowing the partnership between the organisations to flourish, much like the gardens themselves…

Space Unlimited

What should a school management team do if it wants to create a better environment for learning? This is the dilemma at Beeslack Community High School in Penicuik.

Space unlimited logoThe head, Jim Cassidy, and the senior management team are keen to develop a strong learner-centred approach to the curriculum, and to build an ethos of partnership across the school.

Back in March 2011, a group of S3 students led an enquiry, working with teachers to explore the question: How can we create a learning experience that better respects the needs of the individual?

This is a big question, with no easy answers. For all involved, the very idea of students and teachers taking time out with each other to think and talk about learning is hugely novel. But it is an important first step on the path of culture change.

Space unlimitedIt certainly took a bit of getting used to on all sides. And it didn’t start smoothly; there were some tense moments, but from the uncertainty comes new insights. One of the teachers says: “They have to learn from making mistakes and perhaps misjudging things. We don’t give them enough space to do that and when we do they’re not quite sure what to do with it!”

The students say they weren’t expecting to be listened to. They said that a lot of stuff they learn in school didn’t feel relevant. So it seems the question, at least, is a good one.

By the end of the initial enquiry a few weeks later, the students presented clear recommendations for practical action to the school management team. The students wished to see more group work and creativity in classes; they wanted different school trips. Changes to the Homework Club were proposed, along with ideas for ‘dress down days’ and a suggestion that the money from charitable activities go back into the school. They asked for new and different kinds of work experience.

The Head was impressed that the process had created a “secure place where pupils and staff were able to honestly and openly share their expectations, frustrations and aspirations”. He went on: “The experience has begun to change school culture for the better and has inspired pupils to take more responsibility for their personal learning and development.”

We went back for a visit some six months later to see how it was going. The students told us that relationships with teachers are beginning to change and that teachers are less distant. One pupil says “it feels like we’re slowly realising that it can be different”.

They suggest that a big part of this change is that they feel listened to and as a result, they are able to be more open with the staff. They say there is now more group and collaborative work in some classes, though they note there is scope for more. The format of the homework club has changed. It now runs every night and can be used by all years. Small changes to fund-raising activities have given them a buzz: “That feels good – like you respect our views.” One said: “It’s like you (the teachers) realise that you can’t do it without us.”

Since the first enquiry, teachers have been ‘back to school’ themselves; all teachers have since had two training sessions learning about practical tools to support co-operative and active learning and further training is planned. Teachers say they’re already using some new techniques.

There are other spins-offs: more S6s are involved in a coaching capacity; the staff say ‘there’s a buzz about these older pupils being involved’. They are also pleased that the “Study Buddy” system for discussing problems with peers is also coming along well. And they have plans to develop more peer support for learning, for example, through paired reading.

The head says: “Changing the school is like turning an oil tanker – it’s big and complex and it takes time, but it feels like we are starting to move”. Even so, it seems as if the school has caught the bug. The teachers want to focus on the first years to build positive relationships between teachers and students from the outset and are keen to use senior students to assist them.

We are supporting them and others in the community to move towards that vision in a way that ensures that young people retain genuine leadership of the overall project and the process to get there. And so the ripples continue.

The LUV Cafe

The LUV Cafe was opened in 2004 as a part of the Linthouse Urban Village (LUV) project which aims to bring the Linthouse area back to its former glory by restoring community spirit, raising aspirations of local people and improving the physical look of the area.

LUV cafe logoLinthouse grew alongside shipbuilding and heavy engineering works on the Clyde, and with the decline of these types of jobs, along with other contributing factors, widespread social problems arose. In the 60s the area was further blighted with the Clyde Tunnel physically splitting the community in two. The Linthouse Housing Association (LHA), who have looked after the majority of housing in the area for the past 30 years, decided to try and improve the Community as a whole. So in 2003 they set up the LUV project. The project continues to ensure the continued development of Linthouse as a community village.

The LUV Cafe itself is a much-needed social amenity in Govan, uniting different sectors of the community. The cafe provides homemade wholesome, nutritious food at affordable prices. There’s nothing on the menu that costs more than £4.50, with wonderful bowls of home made LUVly soup retailing from a mere £2.20. The cafe is a warm and inviting place, innovatively designed in a modern eclectic style with artist commissions forming most of the design. Open from 8am-4pm Monday to Friday, the cafe also offers catering services, and is available for hire for meetings, meals, buffets and private dinners.

LUV cafeLUV cafe isn’t just about the food. This ‘hidden gem’ in Govan was set up as and affordable place to unite people who live, work or visit the area. Operating on a non-for-profit basis, the cafe puts any profit back into the local community. The social enterprise employs five local people who form the basis of the cafe's welcoming atmosphere and friendly service.

The cafe also runs different events within and outside its opening hours. Past events have included open mic nights, bistro nights and book clubs. A new addition to the cafe's activities is The Monday Club, a discount club for over 60’s that provides older people with the opportunity to get out, make some friends and enjoy a healthy meal. A key factor in all aspects of the cafe is community involvement and the aim is to engage and communicate with the community to meet their needs, wishes and expectations. This is reflected in the menu, service and events that the cafe offers.

Impact Arts - Fab Pad

Susan, 17 and Paul, 20 are a young couple who attended the Fab Pad workshop in Pollok. They had a tenancy in the high rise flats at Kennishead since September 2010.

Impact arts logoPrior to this they were both homeless due to a breakdown in family relations, and stayed in various hostels around the city before being given temporary accommodation. Susan was pregnant with the couple’s first child.

Susan and Paul joined the workshop together and their attendance was excellent; they missed workshops only due to training courses arranged by the Job Centre taking place at the same time. They kept in touch with the Interior Designer by phone on these occasions to ensure that they continued to receive the support they needed. Starting out with no DIY experience, their abilities progressed through time and they were able to expand their skill base to tackle bigger projects.

Impact arts fab padThe design and planning of the interior was ongoing but unfortunately suffered some setbacks. Severe dampness and flooding ruined their wallpapering, however Susan and Paul benefited from the encouragement of the Interior Designer during these difficult times and didn’t lose motivation.

Before experiencing homelessness, Susan and Paul both lived with their parents and therefore had limited experience of decorating and home-making.

Through Fab Pad they learned DIY and Interior Design skills, and, importantly, a proficiency in budgeting that they lacked previously.

As a result, they felt in control of their lives and it gave them an increased sense of confidence and equipped them with the tools they needed to deal with any unexpected setbacks.

Through working with Fab Pad, Susan and Paul were able to prepare a safe, comfortable and beautiful home for themselves and for the arrival of their new baby.

Glasgow Bike Station - A better way to work

Funded by the Climate Challenge Fund and delivered in partnership with the private, government and voluntary sector, a Better Way to Work provides direct support for commuters in Glasgow, offering advice and practical incentives to try alternative modes of transport.

Below you will find a case study which illustrates how this works and highlights some of the real benefits the project can bring to organisations and individuals.

Elizabeth Bea, Lecturer in Spanish, City of Glasgow College

Glasgow bike stationEncouraged to promote sustainable travel in her workplace as part of her remit as Green Travel Coordinator for the City of Glasgow College, Elizabeth became aware of the Better Way to Work Project when she organised a Bike Week event. After further investigation Elizabeth came to realise that the services the project were offering actively encourage sustainable travel within organisations in Glasgow.

She also realised the benefits of the project herself. During the Bike week event the BWTW project provided Dr Bike sessions, cycle training, bike loans and personal travel surgeries. Being without a bike and lacking in cycle confidence,

Elizabeth borrowed a bike and took cycle training which she said allowed her to build her fitness level and confidence which enabled her to start cycling to work. Elizabeth found that the support and advice given through the cycle incentives, and the tailored advice given in the personal travel surgery, were both useful and encouraging.

She started with two introductory cycle training sessions in nearby Glasgow Green with Robbie, the Better Way to Work cycle trainer, and followed up with a two week bike loan. Two months have passed since these initial tentative steps and Elizabeth now says that she feels a sense of freedom through cycling “my body shape is changing for the better and my health is definitely improving. I have also found that I can now sleep better”.

This new found confidence enabled Elizabeth to join a cycling group for women called Belles on Bikes. Through the group she was able to borrow a new bike on a long term loan, allowing Elizabeth to meet other females interested in cycling and continue cycling on a regular basis.

Through participating in the BWTW project the City of Glasgow College has achieved Cycling Scotland's Cycle Friendly Employer Award. They have also continued to provide BWTW services to their employees.

Elizabeth is happy to recommend the Better Way to Work project: “They provide a personal and professional point of view. I have and will recommend this lovely group of people to colleagues and friends”.