My Community Development placement

Hello, I’m Mara, a community development student who has spent the last nine months on placement here at the library.

The majority of my time has been spent working on the Dennistoun Women’s Heritage project, a project set up to uncover the history and stories of local Dennistoun Women. This involved speaking with organisations, local groups and individuals to help piece together stories revolving around the likes of what school was like, going to the Palais on weekends, and working in some of the local industries, such as breweries and cigarette factories. This was a completely new experience for myself so have found it to be a real learning opportunity, getting to know Dennistoun through chatting to so many great women was amazing, I really appreciated the time everyone was willing to give and just being able to hear what it was like growing up in Dennistoun.

Signage for Reidvale Housing Association on a wall outside

A particular highlight for me was getting to chat with Irene McInnes, a founding member of Reidvale Housing Association – one of Scotland’s first ever community led housing associations that worked to save a lot of local flats and homes from demolition, along with lots of other great work. I thought it was such a powerful story about community and I really loved getting to learn about it all first hand. This story is just a snippet of some of the amazing women we got to speak with and write about for both the booklet and map, so I really am proud of everyone involved and the fact I got to be a part of it.

Another great group I was able to spend some of my placement alongside, was Women Making It. A feminist crafting group focused on creating a welcoming space for like-minded women to come together to meet new people and try learning some fun new skills. While the group works on a drop in basis, it was lovely getting to know the regulars as well as new faces each session. I was even able to facilitate a session on collage making, and with a theme of International Women’s Day I was able to focus it on the discussion of role models. It was really lovely seeing everyone share their stories and then creatively translate them through collaging! This was also a great opportunity for myself which allowed me to push myself out my comfort zone quite a bit, I felt able to do so due to the support I continuously received from both the GWL volunteers and staff throughout my placement. I can say this as the library truly is a hugely welcoming and inclusive space, I noticed this from the very beginning of my placement and from the first team meeting I sat in on. It is very evident how much time everyone has for one and other and the genuine excitement and support each project, exhibition, group and individual receives. My time here has benefitted hugely from this type of working environment and why I felt able to both facilitate sessions and also publicly speak at the launch event for the booklet and map for the Dennistoun Heritage project.

All and all, this has been a bit of a long winded way to say that I really have enjoyed and appreciated the time I’ve spent here. It’s been a hugely fulfilling experience for myself, so if any students or volunteers are looking for future placements/experience that will help you grow and support you along the way, I can’t recommend the Glasgow Women’s Library enough!

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