Today we reveal the finalists for the first 2017 heat of the Glasgow Community Champions Awards.
The awards, supported by our generous partners Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, Glasgow Housing Association, Scottish Fire and Rescue and Police Scotland, reward the heroic individuals and hardworking groups who make life in the city better for all.
After weeks of nominations, our judging panel – made up of representatives from all of our partners – has agreed on a shortlist, with the winners to be announced on March 30.
Battling it out for the Team Award are Fuse Youth Work Team, MacMillan Cancer Information and Support Volunteers and Easthall Residents Association.
For more than 40 years, Easthall Residents Association has been bringing the local community together with a range of events and activities, building a strong sense of civic pride.
Its latest project is a community garden, which also serves as a learning space, orchard and growing space and is regularly used by 250 people every week.
Andy Gilbert, project co-ordinator, explains: “ Our garden serves as a feature for the community to realise what can be achieved when everyone pulls together to make their area a better place to live.
“Not only have we transformed the look of the community, we have restored pride and residents feel a sense of belonging.”
The north east of Glasgow has higher rates of some cancers than the rest of the city, which prompted cancer charity Macmillan to set up an information volunteer service in Easterhouse five years ago.
The pilot was so successful the charity teamed up with Glasgow Libraries to run drop-in services around the city, including four in the north east. Volunteers, ranging in age from 23 to 70, many of whom have experienced cancer themselves, help people fighting the disease with support and information on everything from benefits to beating isolation.
Last year, the north east welcomed 635 visitors to the drop-in service – the highest of any across the city.
One man, who wanted only to be known by his first name, Alan, used the Royston Library drop-in after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
He said: “It’s like a dream world looking back – I told them I felt isolated. When I think about that now, I know that I was referring to the feeling of depression, almost like a feeling of being ‘doomed’ and locked into myself.
“Although I hadn’t used the service before, it was so easy because it was local. Sometimes I felt too tired and weak to go far. They listened, and I felt reassured.”
Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year finalist Selina Hales, who set up refugee support charity Refuweegee; Pavilion money advice volunteer George Scott; and Contact the Elderly volunteer Catherine Tully are the Individual Award finalists.
Selina’s charity, Refuweegee, has also been shortlisted in the Public Service Award, alongside Glasgow North East Foodbank and Tesco Parkhead Community Champion Susan Wilson.
Refuweegee provides welcome packs, including much-loved ‘letters fae the locals’ to people newly arrived in the city, often fleeing from war and persecution. They also work with the refugee community to build links between old and new Glasgow, raising awareness of their situation at home and abroad.
Volunteer Sarah Kelly explains: “Our project has grown from an online campaign to a place where people can volunteer, gain work experience and develop strong community links, while continuing to welcome our newest Refuweegees.”
The tireless efforts of Glasgow’s community police officers have helped to transform some of the north east’s neighbourhoods, reducing crime and anti-social behaviour and making local parks and streets safer for all.
Two of the north east’s Problem Solving Teams – London Road and Baillieston – are going head to head in the Uniform Services Award.
The London Road team has worked hard with Milnbank Housing Association in Dennistoun and Haghill on a range of initiatives, including improvements at the sports pavilion in Alexandra Park – once a seldom-used facility it is now a popular venue for the whole community.
The Baillieston team has worked closely with local schools and other partners, boosting local confidence in the police and creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.
The four finalists in the Senior Award are Anne Livsey, Cranhill Parish Church Nearly New Sale, Anne Watson and Betty Fyfe.
Community stalwart Anne Livsey, who is 93, is the convenor of the Springboig 50 Plus Club, helping to arrange activities and outings and inspiring all around her to get involved.
Betty Fyfe goes the extra mile for her community by helping to run the Garthamlock Harmony Club, while the inspirational Anne Watson runs the Helen Leigh Crafter’s Club in Parkhead, giving up her free time to organise events and activities for all.
The Nearly New Sale has been running for more than 20 years at Cranhill Church, and has helped around 1000 local people in temporary accommodation and asylum seekers to buy affordable good quality household items and clothing.
Muriel Pearson, of Cranhill Parish Church, explains: “The Nearly New sale is not flashy or innovative, but it represents many years of dedicated community service by some very modest folk, who would never dream they would be put forward for an award.”
Habiba Amin, Megan Johnston, Aultmore Park Primary and LCR and Eastmuir Primary School will battle it out for the Young Award.
Free Wheel North volunteer Habiba gives up her Sundays to help adults and children ride bikes, despite the challenges she faces in her own life having overcome bullying and health problems.
“Habiba puts her heart into encouraging and teaching people – she is an inspiration,” says Carol Thompson, of Free Wheel North.
The three finalists for the Health and Wellbeing Award are Dave Mitchell and Steven Thompson (Homeless Barbers), Shettleston Community Growing Project and Calton Athletic Recovery Group.
Homeless Barbers Dave Mitchell and Steven Thompson provide free haircuts to homeless people, a first for Glasgow.
The Glasgow City College students give up their Fridays to run the service in the Salvation Army centre on West Campbell Street and it has been so successful, they hope to expand it to other charities across the city.
And finally, the Sport Award will go to either Team Breeze Glasgow Green, Beacon Warriors or Red Star AC.