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Making a diference

Thomas Baldwin invesitgates how church-led projects are enriching lives in some of Scotland’s poorest communties.

THERE is a school of thought currently gaining traction that the Church of Scotland should stop measuring its success or otherwise by the bald statistics of names on rolls, posteriors on seats on Sunday mornings or how people define themselves in social attitude surveys and census returns.

Instead, this argument goes, the Church should be trying to judge itself by less countable things such as lives touched and communities improved.

And while it may well be that this is partly down to a desire to come up with a rosier public image than empty pews and closed buildings, it’s certainly true that the Church continues to have a positive impact on the lives of thousands if not tens of thousands of people across Scotland who aren’t members and who are rarely to be seen at services.

Possibly nowhere is this more pronounced than in the various youth work projects going on all over the country, but especially in the ‘Priority Areas’ – the 64 parishes that are in the top 5% in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), which identifies the areas that score worst on statistics for health, education, employment, crime and other measures.

They are the areas of Scotland with some of the worst problems – but also the scene of some of the Church’s greatest successes. And with the ever-growing pressures on public services, they are needed more than ever.

In the Blackhill/Provanmill area of north east Glasgow, which is 47th on the SIMD list, youth crime has dropped to less than 10 per cent of what it was 10 years ago (from 116 reported crimes in 2006 to two in 2016). Much of the credit for this dramatic turnaround lies with the St Paul’s Youth Forum, an arm’s-length charity which grew out of the youth club of St Paul’s Church.

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About Life and Work

Making a difference - Church-led youth projects enriching lives in Scotland’s poorest areas. Rooted in faith - The son of the manse director of BB Scotland.
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