It was about 7 years ago that the Daughters of Charity responded to a mission call to serve in Govanhill – an area of Glasgow that was new to the Sisters.
Govanhill is the most culturally diverse area of Scotland; it is small at less than one square mile and there are more than 50 languages spoken by a population in excess of 16,000 residents. It is also home to the European Roma migrant population.
In Glasgow, Govanhill is the area where new migrants settle due to the high number of private flats available for rent. Thus, before the Roma people there was the Hebrew community, the Italian and Irish communities and the Pakistani community.
Thus, Govanhill is an area of considerable diversity and poverty relating to employment, education, housing, physical and mental ill health and it is also an area that experiences significant racial tension.
The Space is a Christian project and our Vincentian values are the life blood of the project – from these values everything else flows. This challenges us and those we are alongside to be authentic, to be relational and to recognise the inherent value of every individual regardless of their ability or station in life.
We have heard many Roma people say, “… we are Roma we are not used to being treated like this… thank you”.
The Space is about enabling families to live flourishing lives. This is our aspiration for those we serve and we begin this journey by forming relationships that are meaningful and based on truth, honesty, dignity, compassion, kindness and accountability.
This is what we do - we provide 3 streams of support – Community Drop-in; Community Integration and Building Better Futures.
Our primary contact with families is the mother and once a family is registered with the project we visit them at home regularly. We are accepted by the men in the community as we are seen as a force for good and indeed many Roma men also visit the project.
The Community Drop-in is where relationships begin to develop. It’s where families in crisis can receive the essentials we need to live - food, clothing and bedding and where at a later stage they can buy these essentials at a price they can afford. As we get to know the family we would meet with the adults and ascertain the immediate and longer term needs.
Community Integration includes access to essential services for living, such as, nursery for young children, schools, registration with a doctor, access to welfare benefits, access to free legal services, links to hospitals and the city council as well as energy providers for gas and electric and debt management support.