Streets Ahead: Finalists gear up for the big night

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Tesco Community Champion Susan Wilson at the Save Our Heroes garden in Parkhead. Photo by Gordon Terris.

IT’S time to meet the men, women and children who have made our streets and parks sparkle and bloom over the past 12 months.

As the Evening Times and its partners Glasgow City Council, Scottish Fire and Rescue, City Building and City Charitable Trust prepare for tomorrow night’s Streets Ahead Awards party, we can reveal who will be competing for the trophies.

In the beautiful surroundings of the Winter Gardens on Glasgow Green, we will be awarding prizes for the best garden, clean-up campaign, environmental initiative, community garden, green business, community, initiative and school, plus a special trophy for the overall winner.

Battling it out for the title of Best Clean Up Campaign are Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, Knightswood Secondary School, whose second-year pupils tackle weekly clean-ups, Don’t Waste Woodlands, who are successfully tackling street litter and fly tipping in their area and Hayburn Play Park Association.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association is a popular group in the Kelvin area of the city thanks to their dedication to street clean-ups and community initiatives.

As well as litter-picks and planting, the young team supports local homeless people, organises blood donation sessions and stages a fantastic 5k fun run every year in aid of charity.

“We want our youth to understand the importance of community work,” explains co-ordinator Shoaib Khan. “The youth are our future and we try to instil values in them from a young age to help the local community.”

Hayburn Play Park Association have also been shortlisted in the Glasgow City Council Environmental Initiative category, alongside John Maddison, a one-man clean-up whirlwind; Friends of Kelvindale Railway Station, who have created the city’s most unlikely art gallery and biodiversity hub; and Friends of Glasgow’s Local Nature Reserves, whose inspirational work on the loch has boosted bird and wildlife numbers.

Hayburn Play Park Association has transformed the local park in Partickhill into a vibrant, community resource for people of all ages, complete with stone amphitheatre, boules area, willow dome and maze and more. The group runs regular events and even created a mini-orchard.

“Our park looks amazing and we have had loads of positive feedback,” explains Emma Halliday, one of the volunteer members of the association. “It’s really created a sense of pride and respect for the environment. It has taken hundreds of volunteer hours and a lot of energy and dedication to get the park to this point, so it’s fantastic to be nominated for a Streets Ahead award in recognition of that effort.”

Big Roots of Ruchill Allotment, which encourages people of all ages to grow their own food, attend social events and take part in educational activities; urban community food growing project Concrete Garden and the Save Our Service Veterans project in Parkhead Community Garden are all vying to be named Best Community Garden.

Tesco Parkhead’s community champion Susan Wilson is spearheading the Save Our Service Veterans garden project, rallying local businesses, schools and organisations to create a therapeutic space for local veterans and the wider community.

“The men of SOSV had no funds and needed a helping hand,” explains Susan, who has organised clean ups and fundraised for tools and equipment to get the project off the ground.

Charity shop and community hub Merry Go Round Glasgow; innovative east end enterprise Bottle of Ginger; sustainability managers Ideeas and global success story Totsbots are competing for the Glasgow City Council Green Business Award.

Samantha Moir, who founded Merry Go Round Glasgow after the birth of her son Elliot, is delighted to be nominated for a Streets Ahead award.

“After Elliot was born I realised how much baby stuff was cluttering up the planet, and how many families were in need of a helping hand, so I wanted to do something to brung the two together,” she explains.

One of the most hotly contested categories at this year’s judging session was Best Community Initiative. The four groups who made it on to the short list in the face of stiff competition are Wellhouse Allotment Group, Castlecroft Residents Association, which plans to turn a disused lane into a remembrance garden, Possobilities and Mini Multis Residents Association.

Possobilities has grown into one of Glasgow’s most respected voluntary organisations over the last 33 years.

Development support worker Claire Nisbett explains: “We’re all about promoting independent living – we give members access to the resources they need to grow, learn and develop so they can achieve their goals rather than feel isolated at home.”

As always, schoolchildren across the city have enthusiastically taken up the challenge of Streets Ahead and this year’s shortlist comprises an outstanding collection of projects and initiatives.

Adelphi Nursery, St Maria Goretti Primary School, Pollok Children’s Centre and Drumchapel High Wider Achievement are all hoping to triumph.

As well as the individual category winners, an overall champion will be crowned on the night.

Evening Times editor Graham Shields said he was delighted with the response to the campaign this year.

He added: “Streets Ahead continues to inspire people, six years after its launch and that’s a great tribute to all the groups and individuals who work so hard to improve their local areas.

He added: “With the generous support of our partners, Glasgow City Council, City Charitable Trust, Scottish Fire and Rescue and City Building, we are really looking forward to the awards night on Thursday.

“As always, we received an outstanding collection of entries, but the judges have decided upon a fantastic bunch of worthy winners. It is shaping up to be an inspirational evening.”

atharStreets Ahead: Finalists gear up for the big night