Fare play helps curb Easterhouse gangs

Easterhouse is no longer severely blighted by the gang culture that drew singer Frankie Vaughan to the area in the 1960s, but grudges still persist among certain age groups.

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nInspector Stevie Kinvig is coordinator of the anti-gang DVD that shows real-life injuries     Pictures: Nick Ponty
nInspector Stevie Kinvig is coordinator of the anti-gang DVD that shows real-life injuries Pictures: Nick Ponty

As RACHEL LOXTON found out, there is still fear among some teenagers today

Teenage support worker Dean Crawford is too afraid to walk alone to the end of his road.

When he goes for a haircut to Easterhouse shopping centre he takes his friends with him - just in case.

The 18-year-old, from Lochend, admits the gang fighting that scarred the area in the 50s and 60s is almost non-existent. But he still feels threatened by territorial tensions.

Dean was involved in gangs in his early teens, but is trying to leave his past behind and work with young people.

He works in the Families in Action Rodgerfield and Easterhouse (FARE) community centre and says: "A lot of the younger generation can walk about anywhere. But for older ones about our age they still can't because folk hold grudges.

"If I go to the shopping centre for a haircut I always take my pals to go. If my pals are going anywhere we all get a phone call and meet up."

He says that although gang fighting is not happening on the scale it used to, there are still tensions.

Dean has turned his life around and now works with people of all ages at the centre in Drumlanrig Avenue, along with others his age.

A few years ago he would not have been able to speak to his colleagues because gang rivalry was so strong.

The community hub is at the centre of the same world that featured in the controversial schools DVD As It Is.

The DVD was launched seven years ago by a community partnership and spearheaded by Strathclyde Police to show brutal real life footage of the after-effects of gang fighting and the scourge of it in Glasgow.

Despite the extremely violent images, including the wounds of youngsters maimed in knife battles, it was aimed at pupils as young as 11.

It has been re-released in an attempt to help drive territorial fighting out completely.

Inspector Stevie Kinvig, coordinater of the DVD, says: "We never thought the DVD would stop gang fighting on its own, but we realised people were not listening to us talking.

"We wanted a resource with community voices and with real life footage so young people who have been dragged into gang fighting and crime could fast forward and see where they could end up.

"In some schools head teachers could not accept the DVD, but we had to talk them round and ask them to think five or six years ahead for these young people.

"I wanted real footage, I did not want a drama.

"We are delighted that, thanks to a combination of showing the DVD, pro-active policing and work by community groups and the council, violence has gone down."

Dean was 11 when the film was released. He says: "When I first watched it I just thought, 'That's actually happening'. When we show it to other young lads now we say, 'That's what's going to happen if you want to go down that road'.

"You see folk slip away and you think, 'They don't want to get involved with violence', but some of them fall into it. They don't mean to, it just happens. I used to do it. I saw it all the time."

Jack Galbraith, 17, from Ruchazie, says he stopped getting into trouble with gangs when he started at the centre.

"I used to get involved with stuff, but now we do football on a Tuesday. We do loads of different things," he says.

Support worker Paddy McAllister, who is 18 and from Cranhill, adds: "I used to stay in every weekend because there was always someone fighting.

"The younger ones saw the old ones doing it and thought they should do it as well."

Jimmy Wilson, 41, services manager at FARE, says 10 years ago there were constant fights between gangs such as the Drummy, the Cranhill Fleeto and the Den Toi.

But Mr McAllister says: "I don't see young people having running battles against each other now.

"There are times I come in and find a young person has been attacked. Is it gang violence? It is violent, but Glasgow is still rife with violence and we need to keep working to stop that.

"By bringing young people in and getting them to work with young people I think we will reduce violence in Glasgow."

Mr Wilson believes territorialism is still a problem for older teenagers, but that things have improved for the younger generation.

He adds: "Today we have 50 young people in a club and they have come from a whole load of different areas. I think that Is the future."

rachel.loxton@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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