Gallatown’s fight against adversity

Gallatown Park
Gallatown Park

THE Gallatown area of Kirkcaldy has been included in a recently published report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation assessing the impact of the recession on disadvantaged communities in Scotland.

The ‘Reality, Resources, Resilience: Regeneration in a Recession’ report was commissioned from SURF, Scotland’s independent regeneration network and looks at the impact on communities, the experience and practical initiatives in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and how the communities and agencies are responding.

The Gallatown community is one of only two case studies - the other is Govan - featured in the report written by Andy Milne and Derek Rankine.

The two communities were chosen for the report as “these formerly thriving communities both still suffer the economic and social legacy of rapid deindustrialisation”.

And they were ranked within the most deprived 10 per cent of communities in the 2009 Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD).

Gallatown still features in the SIMD for 2012.

Among the impacts that have been noted in the report are:

• false economies and the reverse of preventative spend;

• small cuts for community and voluntary groups reverse empowerment;

• blocked systems and stymied aspirations;

• a sense of abandonment;

• fractured plans and lost investment.

In both Govan and Gallatown, the report highlights the responses being under-taken by community based projects to try and improve the situation.

Such initiatives metioned in the Kirkcaldy community were the ‘Dad’s Gardening Project’, which although is run through the Cottage Family Centre and based in Templehall, it is part of a set of health and community collaborations that also serves nearby Gallatown.

Another creative response serving the Gallatown community is a Supermarket Health Check service, set up by NHS Fife and the Digital Fife Employment Access Trust, in the local Asda store, giving shoppers “instant touch-screen health information and linked web site access”.

In conclusion, the report states: “Hopefully this report and further practical work by SURF and its partners will build on increased enthusiasm for community asset-based regeneration, ensuring that empowered communities become an integral part of a well connected ‘upward escalator’ of future regeneration, rather than just short-term diversion.”

CLAIRE Baker, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said the report highlights the problems and challenges facing the poorest communities during these tough economic times.

She said: “The story of Gallatown and the disadvantages that its residents are facing makes it clear that the Scottish Government and Fife Council must do all that it can to address the concerns raised in the report.

“Local community led projects can be a lifeline to areas as they can reach out to those most disadvantaged, and, at a time when local councils are faced with difficult funding decisions, this must be prioritised.”