Cromdale Road Pods
The multi-agency Tasking and Co-ordinating Group of Inverclyde Council was concerned about the ‘gang culture’ in Cromdale Road, Port Glasgow, as it was ‘hot spot’ for unruly behaviour. This inevitably created high levels of fear of crime among local residents. It was also an area difficult to police because of the many alleyways down which young people disappeared at the first sign of a community warden. A questionnaire amongst local residents by the Inverclyde’s Social Protection Team confirmed that many of the tensions between the generations were related to these street activities.
The Council successfully applied to YouthLink Scotland for funding to address this issue with the aim of:
- resolving the anti-social behaviour
- breaking down barriers between generations
- changing attitudes and improving community wellbeing
- creating a ‘feel good’ factor and promoting community ownership.
The Social Protection Team met with the local tenants and residents group and with young people, to find out what would encourage them to become involved with the initiative.
The outcome was 40-foot metal storage containers, known as pods, put on a vacant site nearby. They were kitted out with power, heating, lighting, cooking facilities, tables and chairs and were open five or six evenings per week, including Fridays and Saturdays. A programme of activities was launched to appeal to all ages, including popular fly-tying and fishing, arts and crafts, make-up workshops, smoothie-making, photography, jewellery making and cookery. Fliers were dropped off locally and displayed in shop windows. The pod users could also watch films, enjoy quiz nights or help to establish a community garden.
As the weather improved a football coaching programme and other outdoor sporting activities were organised. Football was a definite winner. Ideas from the initiative are being applied in other areas in Inverclyde, where, for example, they are delivering a similar range of workshops and encouraging engagement by members of the local community. Alongside the intergenerational element of the programme, there is access to other local programmes such as Fire Reach, New Horizon, New Attitudes and Positive Future Programmes.
The initiative had a significant impact on the level of crime and anti-social behaviour in the Cromdale neighbourhood. It provided positive options for young people who might otherwise have been ‘sucked’ into bad behaviour and it brought the generations together. The significant reduction in offending behaviour left the police and community wardens more able to deal with serious matters and persistent offenders. The photography workshops, led by a professional photographer, included a trip to Loch Lomond, providing a rare opportunity for some participants to travel beyond Inverclyde. As far as the young people were concerned, the initiative was an undoubted success. They held a Gala Day in June, attended by Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill. He met local people involved in Pod activities and saw how older and young people work and relax together.
Cookery classes, involving all age groups preparing food and eating together, were very popular. Problems caused by the limited power supply of the generators were a challenge but were overcome. Other popular workshops ranged from first aid and avoiding knife crime to use of the gym and music.
Opening times: At the beginning the pods were open during the day, with partner agencies offering drop-in facilities. However this had little uptake, unlike the evening sessions.
Partnerships: When the pod moved to a new ‘hot spot’ Cromdale Road still had its football, popular fly-tying and fishing activities. The Social Protection Team are working with WOOPI to continue the photography project.
Location: Engaging with the older residents generally was more problematic, mainly because of the pod’s location, with the winter of 2009-2010 being one of the hardest in decades.
A gradual process: Relationships, respect and understanding between older and younger residents improved during the initiative with people experiencing connections across the generational divide. However more time would have improved the process of integration. Tenants and residents did re-adjust their attitudes but this does not happen overnight and needs persistence.
Sustainability: Partners are not always in a position to make long-term commitments. Thus communities which are not particularly well-knit in the first place are unlikely to change in a short period or take on the responsibility of keeping the momentum going.
Councillor Robert Moran, Convener of Safe, Sustainable Communities: “Antisocial behaviour has reduced dramatically since the Pod scheme was launched in October 2009 and local people feel more confident about their community and what the future holds”.
“The music workshop was fantastic, I really loved it.”
“Learning to make pancakes with Monica was the best thing ever. I can’t stop making them now. It’s driving my mum nuts!”
“Being in the pod is so cool, I get to hang with my mates and play some fun games.”
“I never knew what fly fishing was until I was in the pod. Fly fishing is the best.”
“Never thought my body could bend in so many ways – break-dancing was ‘fabalicious’!”