• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Agenda: So rewarding to see the impact of giving young people a Fare chance

Last week, The Herald printed a photograph of the mini commonwealth games run by Fare (Family Action in Rogerfield and Easterhouse) at the new Emirates Stadium.

More than 900 children from Glasgow's east end participated.

I was Fare's first leader in 1989 when it served a small number of youngsters. One of them, William Palmer, is now a leader with Fare and I spotted him at the games and chatted about old times. In those days he was a member of the local gang. After one battle, he spent a long time in hospital and still carries the scars. He sought his revenge and served time in prison. He was then drawn into Fare and gave up fighting.

The gangs have not entirely disappeared but the police and research from St Andrew's University indicate a drastic decline. How has it happened? STV has shown a documentary film by David Gillanders called Knife Crime: Winning the War.

He accompanied ambulance crews in Easterhouse 10 years ago and witnessed numerous fights, including deaths. Repeating the experience last year, he confirmed that serious violence is unusual. His explanation focussed on improved police intervention and the coming together of medical staff to inform schools of the serious outcomes of gang activity.

He also highlighted the contribution of local projects, one of which was Fare, which, he said, had brought hope, advice and amenities to estates that had none.

I retired as leader in 1996, although continuing as a volunteer. The new leader, Rosemary Dickon, expanded Fare in activities and staff numbers. A key appointment was that of Jimmy Wilson who, having been a gang fighter himself, spent 10 years in the army before coming to Fare.

The staff developed a strategy to cover all the gangs in Easterhouse. First, in primary schools where a course looked at the history of gangs, their glamour and dangers. It was emphasised to those in primary seven that soon they would be faced with the choice of joining or not joining gangs.

Secondly, workshops in secondary schools with particiapation from those who were in gangs and those who were not. Lunchtime activities built up relationships between the pupils and Fare staff.

Thirdly, contact with gangs. Staff went into other neighbourhoods and, where they did not exist, started evening clubs for youngsters.

Fourthly, and hardest of all, joint activities between different neighbourhoods. Football matches did sometimes end in fights. More successful were residential trips to theme parks. Very popular were outdoor activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

So, too, with permission from the local council, was graffiti. In one place, the youngsters asked elderly residents to suggest a subject. They proposed "dinosaurs" as they felt regarded as such. The outcome was a fine painting and improved relationships between young and old.

This has worked. Recently Fareorganised a rave in the centre of Easterhouse. Some 400 teenagers crowded in, noisily enjoyed themselves but with no trouble. One boy who has a long contact with Fare was Dean Crawford. Aged three, his dad was murdered.

Aged nine, his mum died of excess alcohol. In trouble with the police, he was placed in care but lived with his aunt and a sister. He was suspended and then ejected from school. He was constantly in fights. Yet the link with Fare, especially with Jimmy Wilson, was never lost. To his surprise, Jimmy told him that a job was coming and he could apply but would have to change completely and be a role model. He secured the post.

I must admit that, when I see him at Fare, I get a lump in my throat. It has all been worthwhile. Dean represents the reasons for Fare's success with gangs: a project run mainly by local people over a long period

Fare does less with gangs and is dealing more with the poverty resulting from the recession and the Coalition Government's policies. It may be even harder to tackle than the gangs.

Contextual targeting label: 
Block list

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

216568