SWAYED ECO project
he ECO project arose out of tensions concerning a shared community flat. An adult group was upset by boisterous behaviour by some young people in the memorial garden outside the flat and a youth group felt they were being misunderstood and unfairly treated. Also the adults who met in the tearoom were somewhat annoyed that the youth group had access to an IT suite with eight computers, whereas they had no access.
A community worker spent some time with the adult group listening to their concerns. She decided to start a dialogue between the groups, with the adults providing refreshments and home baking for an urban art event run for the young people. As the barriers to communication began to break down, they discussed the state of the garden and the need to work on it. Culture and Sport Glasgow (CSG – now Glasgow Life) and Glasgow Community Safety Services (GCSS) consulted with both groups. Together they designed the ECO project organised under the banner of SWAYED (South West Area Youth Engagement and Diversion). CSV Action Earth provided resources and funding to buy seeds, plants and shrubs. GCSS donated a bird table. The Environmental Community Action Team was also supportive.
The first stage of the project simply entailed a clean-up of debris and litter. The second stage involved weeding and preparing the soil for new plants, bulbs, flowers and shrubs. Adults who were too frail to participate were still keen to actively offered advice. A Garden Tea Party was held in early October and a survey of all 35 attendees – from 5 years upwards to the over 55s – gathered opinion on how to move the project forward for 2011. In the evening a bouncy castle, animal petting, face painting and traditional games were organised. The event was a great success.
- Both groups have become more tolerant of each other.
- There has been a marked decrease in the level of complaints.
- The young people feel more comfortable in the adults’ presence and the adult group no longer complain about noise levels.
- Staff has become more aware of the win-win opportunities offered by intergenerational practice. Participants decided to name some flowers after staff!
- The project grew out of a situation and was not imposed on residents. Staff was also relaxed about allowing it to develop at its own pace.
- There was a very real sense of belonging and of celebration for everyone involved as they planned the garden party.
- Additional benefits include a football area and an IT class for adults with a tutor.
- Because of child protection legislation, bringing both groups together indoors was difficult.
- Boys aged over 12 are difficult to engage.
- The ‘middle-aged group’, with the exception of some mothers, were conspicuously absent.