A new long-term community-led strategy is set to transform Ferguslie into a place where everyone can thrive.
Community organisations will work with Renfrewshire Council on a consultation with local residents to get their creative ideas for a new place plan that will meet their needs.
Statistics published today (Tuesday 28 January) reveal that an area in Paisley’s Ferguslie Park is no longer at the bottom of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation table.
Community organisations have already been working with local people on what’s needed to change perceptions about Ferguslie when residents have already said they are wholeheartedly proud to live there.
Matthew at The Community Connection says, “The new place plan will determine how the community wants to use vacant and underused land, enhance green spaces and support local community groups to ensure more opportunities are available in the area.”
It will also continue the work that began with Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture by using culture and heritage to transform the lives of people living in the area, developing key projects such as culture being ‘prescribed’ to reduce social isolation and Castlehead High’s partnership with Glasgow School of Art to use creativity to raise attainment.
Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “People in Ferguslie have been a strong force for change in the area, and this new place plan will be led by their ideas of what will make their community thrive.
“The community have already said that the SIMD results do not define them, and they’ve been leading the changes taking place across the area.
“Residents have told us their ideas for housing in the Tannahill area through extensive community consultation carried out by voluntary organisations embedded within the area.
“Now we are asking residents how they want to use green and vacant spaces across the area and what the council can do to enable these plans to come to fruition.
“The plan will capture how the community want to develop the area with the necessary amenities and infrastructure to support their ambitions for Ferguslie.
“It will also build on cultural and industrial history and look at how perceptions of Ferguslie can be turned around and transforming the area into a desirable one to live, work and visit.”
John MacIntyre, chairperson of Ferguslie Community Council, said Ferguslie is better than ever before. He said: “Having spent all my life in Ferguslie Park, I have seen it at it’s worse and now at its best, with further improvements around the corner.
“For far too long our past reputation based on these types of statistics has made it harder for us to play a full part in the wider Renfrewshire area.
“This is clear evidence that we do not deserve the tag of most deprived estate in Scotland. It’s time to praise the community efforts and actions taken over many years, in bringing Ferguslie Park out of the statistical disadvantage it has suffered too long from.”
Terry McTernan, volunteer for the environmental-focused Darkwood Crew, spoke passionately about the community funding itself over the last two years. He said: “The community is paving its way to a better future. In the case of our Routes for All project, we are literally doing that by improving pathways and connections across the area.
“Now that we have built an active and empowered community, we are able to take advantage of local and national programmes and think about how we can do our part for the environment and climate change.”
Karen Campbell, chair of charity Pals of the Privies, says the changes in community perception is all down to the community itself. She said: “It’s all down to the people who live here. We decided to get together and do things to make positive changes in the community. We started having local events that were free to attend and we changed how we did things in the local community.
“The community meals night is a good example. Community groups take turns to cook for the community, it’s free and it gives everyone a chance to get out of their home and talk to people. Having events to reduce social isolation has been incredibly important for us.”
Long-term change is already underway thanks to collaborative work between residents, community groups, the Council and local partners.
101 new-build homes will be built within the Tannahill area of Ferguslie using residents’ aspirations and requirements.
Families are supported by the Council’s Tackling Poverty programme, which received a five-year investment of £5million in 2018.
The funding provides families with advice on money, fuel debt and energy bills and funds to help with the cost of the school day. It also provides children and young people with free activities during the school holidays and support for their mental health and wellbeing.
Many local people who faced a range of barriers to employment have been successfully supported into work through a community-based employment project that people can drop into every Friday at the Tannahill Centre. The project is run by Renfrewshire’s jobs and employability programme, which is ranked the best performing in Scotland.
Local charities and community groups are supported to grow and develop by Engage Renfrewshire, a third sector organisation based in Ferguslie Park and funded by the Council and Scottish Government.
Community representatives in the newly founded Paisley North, West and Centre Local Partnership have equal say with councillors on how to spend money in the area.
More than £5,500 has been awarded from the Local Partnership budget to support St Ninian’s church choir, football kit and fees for Blackstoun United Football and improving disability access led by Renfrewshire Access Panel.
Charity Pals of the Privies has been transforming local green spaces, having received £50,000 funding from the council and £20,000 from children’s charity Wooden Spoon for Glencoats Park play area.
£3,000 was also awarded to the charity to support a Halloween event and Christmas trail in an underused green space.
Community group Darkwood Crew are working on improving pathways around the area, with £4,500 funding coming from the council, and £4,500 from Paths for All.
£10,000 funds from the council will also support a feasibility study on future facilities for the Tannahill Centre.
Councillor Nicolson added: “Ferguslie is leading the way in its own transformation, and the council will continue to work with them to transform the area.
“It is important not to let these statistics define any area or the people who live there. There has been long-term cross-party support for improving the opportunities available to people which is why in our council budget we extended funding for our Tackling Poverty programme for a further five years. Success will only be achieved by working in partnership with communities, local groups and our education and health partners.”