On a Wednesday morning Saracen Street has no shortage of people and the shops are doing a trade. You could say it was bustling.

Take a closer look however, and you will see the problems which have blighted Possilpark for years, leading to it being named in a study as the most deprived area in the United Kingdom since 1971.

The ravages of drug addiction and alcoholism are evident in many faces. Low healthy life expectancy is seen in the number of people prematurely with walking sticks or mobility scooters.

This week Possilpark was ranked number one as the most deprived community in the UK.

Read more:Most deprived community in the UK: It is time for a big investment

Using a scale known as the ‘Townsend Score’ researchers analysed data on unemployment, overcrowding and car ownership and over five censuses since 1971 the area scored highest for deprivation.

The news was not new to many people who live there. Drugs and the associated crime and anti-social behaviour that comes with it was top of the list of concerns.

One woman, who has lived in the area for around 30 years, who did not want to be identified, said it is worse now than ever.

She said: “This is the worst it has ever been. Crime is a big problem but they have closed the police station.

“The drugs are as bad as ever. It is out of control. There are people here out on the street every day who have been on methadone for 20 years. It is not helping them.”

However, the people are not giving up. Local traders are getting together to make improvements.

Gary Walker owns the butcher shop, a West of Scotland Steak Pie Champion no less.

He said: “Yes, there are a lot of people with problems, but they get on with it.

“Most of the people are good. I am happy to be serving them.

“People spend their money in local shops, there is definitely still a community spirit here.”

He points to a charity collection where customers raised well over one thousand pounds.

Along with some other traders, Mr Walker is trying to get a trader’s association initiative off the ground to work with authorities to make improvements in the area.

Next door, Brian, the optician in Eye Pad, said: “It’s been abandoned and forgotten, but the community spirit is here.”

As if on cue, as he speaks a woman comes in with her neighbour’s glasses that need repaired.

One of the indicators of deprivation in the study is unemployment, which Possilpark has suffered more than most.

Once there were massive engineering works, like Hugh Smith, that survived long after the Saracen Foundry was history. The area also suffered as big industrial employers in nearby Springburn closed.

John Thorburn, Chairperson of ng homes, said: “The problem in Possilpark is a lack of job opportunities, meaning people have a lot of time and not much money.

“There are no employers, no shops, no firms, no industry. It’s very limited. Many of the opportunities that where here in the past are now gone or have closed.

“These issues aren’t new. They have been going on since the early 60s and weren’t tackled properly.

“That said, there is still a strong community spirit within Possilpark. Money is only one side of the issue, but it obviously strongly impacts on health and wellbeing.”

One noticeable difference in Possilpark over the decades is in housing. Many of the older inter-war era tenements have been demolished.

Many sites have been replaced with new lower rise housing, but large derelict sites remain where once stood schools, community centres and workplaces as well as housing.

Mr Thorburn added: “The general housing is of a reasonable standard. People still want to stay there and are proud to stay there. The challenges are to ensure that the council and the government recognise that the area needs jobs, special status and investment in order to thrive”

On Saracen Street, during the lifetime of the studies, from 1971 to 2001, there were banks, cobblers, TV shops, fishmongers, fruiters, a record shop, paint and wallpaper shops and an assortment of other traders.

Today it is dominated by betting shops, take-aways, off-sales and more hairdressers and barbershops than before.

The banks have been replaced by a solicitors, and an off-sales while the last to close its doors, right on Saracen Cross is still empty.

There are three pharmacies and the four pubs, the Standard Inn, Saracen Bar, Balmore Bar and the Brothers Bar, survive.

Robert Tamburrini, Chief Executive, ng homes.“Poverty and deprivation are words that have been attributed to Glasgow for far too long. As an Association, we are committed to building a community which can flourish and prosper in Possilpark and wider North Glasgow. This is something that takes time, resource and patience, but we are committed to making that difference and fully believe we’re putting the building blocks to do so in place.”

Table - ten most deprived communities in UK according to Liverpool University study



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