Ferguslie Park. An area thought to be rife with drugs, poverty, gangs and violence. Yet despite the recent SIMD reports that have declared Ferguslie Park ‘the most deprived area in Scotland’. However, members of the Community Council see a vastly different side of Feegie’ not often shown in the media.
The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) is report based on the council areas in Scotland and measures the levels of deprivation experienced in each one which comes out every four years. The report has now ranked Ferguslie Park as the most deprived area of Scotland twice.
Community Councillor, is on a mission to improve the image of the place he calls home. One of the main ways of doing this to form a strong Community Council that has a strong vision of the future that can get proactive to tackle some of the problems that affect the community. He can see community’s benefiting from community councils working in partnerships in the future.
The 38-year-old, believes that the SIMD figures are partly to blame for the negative image of Ferguslie. Interestingly also believes a positive attitude needs to be found from within. Terry has a strong conviction that in a western European society people often have misconceptions of absolute poverty.
It was this frustrating cycle of despair that gave birth to Project Hope, a community based charity group set up in Ferguslie in 1999. Through the project, the scheme’s young people can volunteer in Romania to help with various development projects.
Mr McTernan believes seeing true poverty can help the young people realise they are not as disadvantaged as they might believe, helping them to adopt a more positive outlook.
He can still hear ‘the voices of young people’ he says, who believed they were written off from the days when he was involved in a lot of youth work in the early 2000s at St Ninian’s Youth activity centre.
It was this frustrating vicious cycle that gave birth to ‘Project Hope’ where young people can volunteer in Romania to help with various development projects. He said: “I still hear young folks for example, and this was part of the reason for taking young folks to Romania. Again, to give them that. He said: “This was part of the reason for taking young folks to Romania. Again, to give them that true appreciation of poverty.”
Despite this Terry recognises that past mistakes of pervious councils have left scars on Ferguslie that the area will not recover from easily.
Whilst walking around Tanahill he said: “This is the area incidentally that’s been highlighted as the most deprived. The reality is that the council has had a no let policy in this whole area for the best part of ten years. So ‘I see said the blind man’. A no let policy for ten years which is predominately populated by elderly people. Guess what a proportion of those elderly people will have died. And nobody’s taking over their house after they die.”
Mr McTernan feels that inequality exists but wonders whether simply referring to this inequality as poverty is misdiagnosing the problem and therefore not really helping the area develop further. Yet, in Terry’s opinion poverty has become a by word in areas like Ferguslie where it’s used as an excuse for a lack of community engagement.
The community hub stood in the centre of Ferguslie Park serving as a clinic, doctor’s office, library etc. Terry is also glad to report that he has had positive relationships with those running the hub and hopes the hub can improve community engagement whilst looking forward to longing term sustainability. He said: “So, they’ve come in, they’ve got a very clear aim. Their aim is to make this whole facility, this whole building, self-sustaining. Our argument as a community council is, “Let the community in and the building will sustain itself because folks will use it.”
Since the Community Council has begun little by little the people of Ferguslie are beginning to find hope as they finally have a platform not just for expressing grievances but having a group of proactive of individuals that really do their bit to address problems.
It is people like Terry,that Ferguslie Park needs. Someone that has a clear goal for the future, positive attitude and a pro – active mind-set. Something he hopes can inspire others with to finally see improvement and not endless regeneration.