A survey conducted under the Thriving Places* programme has set about counting the languages spoken in Govanhill, the most ethnically diverse area in Scotland.
As much as the presence
of English, Urdu, Punjabi, Romanian, Slovak, Scottish and Irish Gaelic is
common knowledge, not everyone will be aware that Nepali, Vietnamese, Ishan,
Sinhalese, and Tibetan are also spoken in the neighbourhood. It turns out
Govanhill is abundant in polyglots. Out of 222 responders, 182 said they spoke at least
two languages, and quite a few were comfortable using 4 or even 5.
People were also asked if they knew how to say ‘Hi’ in some of their neighbours’ languages, the majority said they did and that they were interested in learning more.
The most popular languages that people wanted
to learn were BSL, Spanish, Arabic and Romanes (Roma).
Based on The Languages
of Govanhill survey, the records of GCDT and some of the local schools, it
turns out there are at least 88 languages and dialects spoken in Govanhill. As
more people fill in the survey, this number is bound to increase. Contact Marzanna Antoniak at email@example.com with
questions about the survey or if you want to participate in any language-based
projects in Govanhill.
survey was conducted as part of a heritage-based regeneration strategy for the
neighbourhood that is being developed. Such an impressive language tally is a reason to
celebrate. Enjoy reading survey participants’ reflections about Govanhill
being a multilingual place.
*The Thriving Places approach proposes that local “organisations commit to working more collaboratively with one another and the community to make better use of existing resources and assets to respond to each individual community’s needs.” Locally, Govanhill Housing Association is the anchor organisation responsible for leading and implementing the Thriving Places strategy working with Govanhill Community Development Trust (GCDT).
Living in a uniquely diverse area in Scotland, the people of Govanhill can be proud of the variety of languages that are spoken here. Nobody really knows how many we speak and what are all the niche ones. Here is our chance to find out. If you have a strong connection to Govanhill, enjoy filling in this quick survey. The results will be revealed when more than a 100 people submit their answers. Let’s see how many languages are spoken in Govanhill!
Govanhill Community Development Trust will be holding a drop in where local people will be able to meet local organisations and connect with opportunities in the area. This will take place every Friday from 10am-1pm.
The drop in will be an ideal time to find out more about what local organisations have to offer, and how you can boost your employability, make friends and give something back through volunteering locally.
On the 30th of January, in the brightly coloured studio space on top of the Gallery of Modern Art Glaswegians from across the world performed poems and songs to a full crowd.
The majority of performers were either from or had a strong connection with Govanhill and for some, it was the first time that they had performed in public. The poetry and songs explored a variety of topics – everything from love, loss, homesickness and heartbreak to belonging, Scottish rain and a child’s love of scooters!
Performances were in 13 different languages, including Bengali, Czech, Arabic, English, Romani, Polish, Somalian and others. And it turned out 29 languages in total were spoken by the members of the audience – still fewer than the number of languages spoken in Govanhill, the most diverse district in Scotland.
The Verse Universe event, organised as part of Thriving Places programme by Govanhill Community Development Trust, gave Glaswegians the opportunity to come together and appreciate each other’s cultural heritage and languages spoken across the city.
The night was hosted by radio broadcaster John Cavanagh and
Marzanna Antoniak, who introduced the performers and gave a brief outline of
the subjects of each of the poems.
Event organiser, Marzanna – Community Connector for Thriving Place
Govanhill, who is originally from Poland says
‘At a time when Britain is
disconnecting from the rest of Europe, when wars are looming over Yemen,
Somalia and Syria, when there is turbulence in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, it was
beautiful to see Glaswegians from around the world come together to connect in
Verse Universe – a multilingual celebration of spoken word and music.
The performances in
Hungarian, Romani, French, Arabic, Bengali, Persian and other tongues proved
that it is possible to be moved by a message without understanding every word.
Such is the universal power of connection that art and music have. ‘
If you live in Govanhill or have a strong connection with the
neighbourhood and would like to share a piece of your cultural heritage via
poetry or song, please contact Marzanna at firstname.lastname@example.org to be
added to her Verse Universe mailing list.
Photography by Karen Gordon. You can find more of Karen’s work, including Everyday Racism here.
At time of going to press, the Govanhill Community and Remembrance Garden Fun Day Fundraiser has raised a whopping £1226 – a figure expected to go up.
Tables were stowed out with home-baking and prizes for the tombola – all donated by local people, a sign that the gardens here on Coplaw Street nurture not only brassicas and beetroots, but also a sense of community.
Graham Steel has been volunteering here since 2018 and now runs the gardens’ social media. He’s keen to encourage more people to visit and get involved so that the gardens continue to thrive. ‘Some folk come to garden, some for the company and some for the peace and quiet,’ he says.
It’s clear just how much the gardens mean to the local people here. Mary visits her wee sister and brother in the remembrance garden on a weekly basis. ‘It’s my peace,’ she says, ‘it’s solace to me.’ And Liz agrees, ‘It’s a lovely community.’
The gardening group meets every Wednesday from 2-4pm. A recently installed ramp means the gardens are now fully wheelchair accessible. You can find the community garden and the remembrance garden on Facebook.
Every Saturday from 10:00 to 12:00 South Seeds run educational gardening sessions in the Govanhill Community Garden next to Samaritan House. These sessions are free, run on a drop in basis and are open to all. They will be running until October so there is still plenty of time to get involved.
We dropped in this Saturday to find out what is growing and asked South Seeds Gardener Joe for a quick tour of the beds.
Govanhill Housing Association created this group around 15 years ago. The name of this group is an abbreviation of ”Minority Ethnic Resident Group Empowerment”’.I joined this group one year ago.I was new in Glasgow,I met The chairperson of this group Naureen in the library. We had a conversation about different things and she invited me to join this group. MERGE holds its monthly meeting at Samaritan House 79 Coplaw street. At every meeting I get the opportunity to meet different people from my area in a friendly environment. People feel free to discuss their different issues which they are facing.
Moreover this group arranged ”weekly coffee mornings’ which have been very successful. The first 6 sessions included art classes and next 6 sessions were about sewing.In both these classes there were two instructors whose support helped the ladies to improve their skills.
In the summer hoildays the MERGE group is arranging a family trip for members of the group. Last year the members of this group, along with their families and friends, enjoyed their visit to the Isle of Bute. The journey in the ferry and visit to the castle was a great inspiration for the children. The whole day was full of delight.
The MERGE group invites all minority ethnic residents of the Govanhill area to join. The MERGE group provides a platform for people with different languages, and cultures. to share their thoughts and work for the betterement of this area. To get involved phone Amra Nazim on 0141 636 3628 or come along to a meeting on the third Thursday of every month at 11am in the community hall at Samaritan House.
A weekly woodwork course held in the garden of Govanhill Community Development Trust is looking for new participants.
Join Jim, woodwork extraordinaire, to learn pro tricks, try out his collection of hand, power and antique tools, and hopefully start a project of your own. The goal is that by the end of the course you will have basic competence with tools and the confidence to tackle repair jobs on your own.
‘You find people have more skill than they think – they don’t realise they are already halfway there until they get started. It’s brilliant to see people realise what they can do.’
Now one participant is working on a picture frame, another making a chair. Jim himself is determined to build a bench using pallets. Most of their materials are scavenged, with Jim adding that, ‘If someone throws out a pallet, you can see it as dumping or as free wood.’
Find Jim and co in the Govanhill Community Development Trust garden on Thursdays at 1:30pm. The course is running for 12 weeks and began as part of International Men’s Day, although people of any gender are welcome.