Glasgow Community Champions 2018: Who are your heroes?

WANT to know what makes the North Glasgow Community Food Initiative so special?

Just ask the men, women and children who turn up at its workshops, food hubs, gardening sessions and fruit-and-veg-barras.

There’s the young volunteer, who has fought back from an addiction to drugs, who says helping out in the Milton Community Garden has helped him look more positively at life; the grateful parents, who say their children try different types of food after taking part in growing sessions; the new mum who learned what foods were better for her baby’s health; and the keen gardener, whose time on the allotment is helping him enjoy life again, after a rough spell of ill health.

Food poverty has taken hold in communities all over Glasgow. The NGCFI was set up in 2001 to help people struggling to get by on low incomes and it has grown into a respected support network for thousands of people in Milton, Royston and Springburn.

The group’s fantastic work – they run fruit barras, cookery courses, gardening sessions and community events – impressed Glasgow Community Champions judges last year and the team, led by manager Greig Sandilands, won the Health and Wellbeing Award in the north west heat.

The 2018 north west heat takes place very soon and the Evening Times and its partners – Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, Scottish Fire and Rescue, Police Scotland, City Building and Glasgow Fort – are on the hunt for nominations.

If you know of a group like the NGCFI, or an individual who goes the extra mile for others, we want to hear about them.

We are looking for your nominations for the following categories – Team Award, Individual Award, Public Service Award, Uniformed Services Award, Senior Award, Young Award, Health and Wellbeing Award and Sports Award.

This heat covers the north west of the city, from Yoker and Yorkhill to Lambhill and Springburn and everywhere in between. This is the third heat of 2018 and the winners from all three will take part in the glittering grand final at the City Chambers in November.

The closing date for entries is Wednesday, August 15 and event will take place on Tuesday, October 2.

You can enter via the website or by calling Hannah Docherty on 0141 302 6037 or emailing

For Greig and the team at NGCFI, winning a Glasgow Community Champions Award was a “great boost.”

“It was lovely to be part of the Community Champions Awards, a real highlight of our year,” says Greig. “We were delighted to win, especially because it gave our volunteers some well-deserved recognition.”

NGCFI was set up by a group of local people keen to help asylum seekers who had recently moved into the area.

“Back then, asylum seekers needed access to affordable fruit and veg – and now, as incomes fall, benefit sanctions increase and diet-related ill health also increases, the rest of the community does too,” he adds.

“Food poverty is an unfortunate underside of austerity and its biggest impact is upon the most vulnerable people in our society. In-work poverty, where working families are still not making enough to make ends meet, is rising too.”

NGCFI became a charity in 2005 and now runs 12 ‘fruit barras’, giving people access to fresh, affordable fruit and vegetables across north Glasgow, and three community gardens which draw in hundreds of local people for social events and activities.

“Before we did work in Milton, there was not a lot of growing activity,” explains Greig. “We also run community meals in Milton and recent Climate Challenge Funding has been really important for us, as it will help us expand those meals into Royston and Springburn.”

The group is now hoping to expand its partnership working with other groups and organisations in the north of Glasgow.

“NGCFI do our utmost to improve the lives of local people and want to share what we do,” explains Greig.

The initiative also runs specialist cooking classes for young parents, working in partnership with the NHS, and a range of weight reduction classes and nutritional work in schools including the recent Sugar Smart campaign funded by the Jamie Oliver Foundation.

“We did some good work in schools with Sugar Smart,” explains Greig. “Obesity rates in Scotland in both adults and children are increasing. The grant helped us increase awareness about sugar consumption.

He added: “NGCFI is proud of its support to some young people in Milton – they are becoming environmentally aware and through working with their parents, we are helping to increase the use of the garden for the greater benefit of the community.”