How do communities continue to come together and support each other in a safe way during the pandemic?

In Pollokshields, Urban Roots and Pollokshields Trust are working together to ensure that local people can continue to access the services of voluntary groups by creating an indoor-outdoor meeting space in the Bowling Green greenspace in the heart of the community.

Creating an urban common

The Bowling Green is a local greenspace and community hub located on the site of the former Kingston Bowling Club. Since 2016, the space has been developed by the community as part of the Pollokshields Trust Mark Makers project 

During the “Make your Mark” charette process the creation of an East Pollokshields Urban Common was identified by residents as an important requirement for the area due to the density of housing and lack of greenspace. This has since become the Bowling Green.

The Bowling Green is currently managed by a small staff from the Pollokshields Trust with the support of volunteers from the local community.

The community has been working hard to bring the site back to life and transform it into a safe space for everyone to enjoy. Wildlife and wildflowers have returned, a small market garden has been created and work is ongoing on the building with the aim to provide a café, kitchen and workshop space.


Working in partnership

There are many different projects happening at the Bowling Green as well as local people using it as their local greenspace. South-side based cycling organisation SoulRiders have a container on site and are developing an e-cargo bikes delivery and collection project. The local youth group the Youth Community Support Agency is running a programme of diversionary activities at the site.

Urban Roots supports community led environmental projects in the South side of Glasgow and have been working with the local volunteers to create a community garden at the Bowling Green and have also delivered scything workshops and permaculture design workshops.

Covid-19 restrictions and safe use of urban greenspace

Recently progress on the Bowling Green has slowed due to the outbreak of Covid-19 but volunteers and staff are still working safely on site to keep projects moving.

To enable community groups to make use of the site, the Trust and Urban Roots have decided to work jointly on the project for the next three months. The gates of the site were reopened in September 2020 and a tipi was put up as an “indoor-outdoor” shelter and meeting space. 

Emma Iller from Urban Roots says “The response has been incredible in terms of use, interest and local support.  We have school groups out through much of the week, YCSA youth group meeting for John Muir Award, after school free play, volunteering, garden design and implementation.  There are also solar panels being installed and Soul Riders moving in to one corner with a cargo bike project”

Emma got the idea for the tipi from a Grounds for Learning conference where they demonstrated using the lightweight tent material tipis being put up outdoor classrooms for the day.

Tipis as temporary shelters?

Urban Roots are exploring wider use of tipis, but for most of the garden/woodland sites it would be more challenging.  They are considering buying and putting one up for days they are in the community woodland, but it would not be viable to leave up permanently there. It works in the Bowling Green because it is fenced and more overlooked, so there is natural surveillance. 

The opportunity for shelter the tipi offers makes it possible for existing community groups to use the space and come together in a Covid-19 safe way. The YCSA, Glendale Women's Cafe, parent & toddlers and homework club are all on site and one of Urban Roots gardening groups that cannot currently use their NHS garden due to restrictions, is also joining in.

In addition to facilitating community action and cohesion through the tipi, work on establishing the community garden space is ongoing. Emergency food provision work during lockdown has meant that Urban Roots established contact with the local mutual aid group and some of its members are now providing help with big tasks such as putting up the polytunnel.