Castlemilk Woodlands cover an area of 30 hectares located around a densely populated housing scheme on the periphery of Glasgow. For many years the woodlands and path network have been neglected and local residents have increasingly viewed the park as a place with poor environmental standards and a focus for anti-social behaviour.
There is a remarkable concentration of deprivation in the area. As well has suffering from high levels of unemployment and low income, poor health is a major issue with local residents experiencing higher than average incidences of heart disease, cancer, respiratory ailments and drug missuse problems.
The Castlemilk Woodlands Project sought to address both the environmental degradation of the woodlands and the several key social problems.
It was recognised that, as a local greenspace, Castlemilk Woodlands could play a vital role in improving the social, economic and environmental fabric of the area.
A multi-agency partnership was established in 2010 with the ambition to provide physical greenspace improvements and to improve and enhance opportunities for people to engage with and use the woodlands to improve their own health and well-being.
The project received CSGN Development Funding in 2010 (Ref CSGN039) and 2012 (Ref CSGN474).
In 2010, the funding enabled a focussed second stage community consultation. This built on the previous consultation work in the Summer of 2009. A woodland specialist analysed the local authority proposals for maintenance and development of Castlemilk Park (woods).
Following this work, an action plan was developed that captured the existing work that was being delivered and identified potential gaps.
The CSGN Development Funding in 2012 allowed the first year of a two year employability project to be delivered. So far 19 local unemployed people have received work experience, training and skills development through participation in a programme of work to manage and enhance the local woodlands.
Following the success of the project, the Cassiltoun Trust was awarded £59,200 through the 2014/15 CSGN Development Fund to deliver a further phase of their employability programme. This will provide opportunities for a further 30 individuals to gain skills and support their employment prospects. The project aims to help over 40% of the participants into employment with over 80% gaining additional qualifications.
The Cassiltoun Trust received a further £62,705 through the 2015/16 CSGN Development Fund to deliver the 'Paths to Employment' programme, which aims to assist unemployed people through a voluntary placement scheme.
Participants have gained valuable work experience, while also keeping pathways clear of litter and leaves, allowing the pathways to be used for community events.
"I have just come back from yet another glorious walk in Castlemilk Woodlands. Each time I go is even better than the last...Tonight we had an added bonus by being able to photograph a huge rainbow. The icing on the cake is seeing the difference because of all the work being done to clean up the park and make the scenery look even better. If you like fresh air. This is the place to be."
Muriel Cupples, local resident.
The 2010 CSGN Development Fund grant enabled the Project to undertake extensive consultation in a short time frame. This facilitated the timely appointment of the Community Woodland Officer, in May 2011, who has been key in the establishing a firm base for the Project to build on.
Key to the success of the project has been high quality communications. When the Project started many people were unaware of the woodland, and those who were had negative perceptions. This had to be overcome by a targeted engagement and education programme.
The Project has also benefited from drawing upon the experience, expertise and support of partners, such as Forestry Commission Scotland and Glasgow City Council. Early success encouraged the Project to seek additional CSGN Development Funds in 2012 to deliver an employability programme. This scheme delivers qualifications, training, work experience and job search support for participants and marks an important step for the Project, moving it beyond social and environmental regeneration towards directly addressing the economic problems which local residents face.
Having established a firm base for the Project with considerable local resident and agency support, the Project will continue to work with partners to seek additional funding in order to maintain the current momentum, ensuring that the woodlands continue to be developed sustainably providing local residents with life changing opportunities.
|2010||CSGN Development Fund||6,030|
|2012||CSGN Development Fund||133,544|
|2014||CSGN Development Fund||59,200|
|2015||CSGN Development Fund||62,705|