STREETS AHEAD – Marieclaire's blooming good idea for a roof garden

MARIECLAIRE McGuinness is not the kind of woman to be messed with.

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Marieclaire McGuinness on the communal area she intends to turn into a garden
Marieclaire McGuinness on the communal area she intends to turn into a garden

Fed up looking at the muddy, puddle-strewn rectangle of ground outside her Glasgow tenement home, she decided it would look much better as a community garden.

She said: "I cleared it up, put out some pots and growbags and asked my neighbours if they wanted to help.

"Then, I walked into my local housing association office, told them they could jail me or join me, but I was going to turn the roof into a garden."

Luckily, Partick Housing Association decided to 'join' Marieclaire, and helped spread the word and gather support for her plans.

With our Streets Ahead grant of £1000 – awarded thanks to the support of our campaign partners, City Charitable Trust, Clean Glasgow, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue and Glasgow Housing Association – Marieclaire and her neighbours can now buy gardening equipment, planters and flowers, vegetables and herbs to grow.

She has also agreed to be our latest Street Champion, joining our city-wide network of people keeping us in touch with what needs done in their local area.

Marieclaire said: "I'm really grateful for the support from Streets Ahead – it's a vital campaign.

"We need to make the most of our urban spaces.

"By encouraging people to get out there and talk to each other about what they want to see done in their street or community, it helps lift whole areas for the benefit of everyone."

Teacher, cultural advisor and community activist Marieclaire, 50, her two daughters, Beattie, 18, and Rene, 12, and neighbours Yvonne Strike, Chris Hemingway and Eoin Garvin, have big plans for the flat roof, which lies at the back of a row of tenements on Dumbarton Road in Partick.

Flats from four closes tower over the area and Marieclaire hopes everyone will see the benefit of being able to look out on an oasis of beauty and calm amid the bustling West End.

She said: "We plan to put up a willow fence, to protect the privacy of people whose windows lie directly opposite the space, and will make it safe for children and adults to use.

"It has already been assessed by a structural engineer so we know it is possible, but we need extra safety and security in place too. We'd also like some seating and a decked areas too.

"We will put in planters, to grow flowers and veg, and in the summer, we plan to hold community events like barbecues and picnics.

"It will be a fantastic way for everyone to get to know each other.

"There is a real mix of people living here, from students and older people to families, and we hope everyone will use and respect the space once we get things up and running."

Chris Hemingway, 20, and Eoin Garvin, 21, are engineering students at Glasgow University.

Chris said: "Having a roof garden out here is a great idea.

"It will turn a pretty boring space into something much more interesting."

Eoin adds: "It's somewhere we can all use, too, which is great for the community."

IT IS an unlikely space in which to find a garden – but if a determined bunch of Partick residents have their way, this shop roof will soon be blooming.

Inspired by the Evening Times' Streets Ahead campaign, which has awarded them a £1000 grant to get their plans off the ground, Marieclaire McGuinness and her band of green-fingered volunteers are off and running. ANN FOTHERINGHAM reports.

RESIDENTS, schools, businesses and community groups across the city are backing our Streets Ahead campaign, which is now into its second successful year.

We want to hear from anyone who wants to help build a better Glasgow.

Whether it's organising local clean-ups or road safety campaigns, planting and weeding, turning gap sites into green spaces everyone can enjoy, or putting up hanging baskets in your street, we can help you to turn your dreams into reality.

Within every project, we will appoint a Street Champion – someone who will keep us in touch with what you need and how we can help you to make it happen.

Get involved by calling 0141 302 6555 or email streetsahead@heraldandtimes.co.uk

Home and Garden

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