Ferguslie Park volunteers bring deprived area back to life

One of Scotland’s most deprived areas in Renfrewshire is to be significantly upgraded as Scotland’s walking charity has awarded a £1,500 grant to a volunteer-led community improvement project.

A group of volunteers from Ferguslie Park, Paisley has been awarded the grant from Paths for All to help boost their efforts in bringing the local community space back to life.

Supported by Ferguslie Community Council, Darkwood Crew will use the funding to carry out vital upgrades to the path networks in the local village green, including the introduction of access ramps and benches, improving signage and the enhancement of green infrastructure in the area.

Named as Scotland’s most deprived area in 2016, Ferguslie Park gained a reputation for being a hot-spot for anti-social behaviour and has since seen considerable community efforts to help transform it into a safe, accessible and welcoming space for residents.

Ferguslie Park volunteers bring deprived area back to life
Know Your Routes – Darkwood Crew, Terry McTernan

Terry McTernan, Darkwood Crew volunteer and secretary at Ferguslie Community Council, said:

“We’re incredibly grateful to Paths for All for their support. The grant has been crucial in allowing us to begin phase one of the wider three-stage regeneration project which aims to revitalise village green into the valuable public resource that it can be.

“One of Darkwood Crew’s main aims is to enhance the health and well-being of local people through increased opportunities to use the area in a positive way. This means we need to make sure that it’s regularly and properly maintained.

“This includes things such as minor tree surgery work, hedge cutting, weeding, edging of the path network, litter-picking and graffiti removal.

“Cleaning up the area and equipping it with the necessary infrastructure will help to connect local amenities, homes and open spaces, providing a more accessible environment for people of all age groups to gather and socialise.

“With the first phase of regeneration taking place at the moment, it’s already clear that the changes are doing wonders for the people of Ferguslie Park.”

Ferguslie Park volunteers bring deprived area back to life
Know Your Routes – Darkwood Crew

Darkwood Crew believes that encouraging wider usage of the area will help to address a number of socio-economic issues that persist in the local community, including isolation and loneliness, health inequalities and lack of educational attainment.

Phase one of the Ferguslie Park regeneration project is estimated to be completed by May 2020.

Ian Findlay CBE, Chief Officer at Paths for All, said:

“It’s inspiring to see groups like Darkwood Crew devoting their time to carry out these vital path upgrades which will bring significant wider benefits to their local areas.

“Having safe and clear public spaces is so important when it comes to keeping us active and connecting with nature and our community.

“Improved paths really build on community spirit as they’re more frequently used by commuters, dog walkers, joggers, children playing and people enjoying the simple but very important pleasure of just going for a walk.

“Thanks to the dedication of these passionate volunteers, our vision of encouraging everyone in Scotland to walk every day and everywhere is becoming a reality.

“We’re excited to see the difference that this work will bring to towns and cities across the country and know that a great number of communities will benefit.”

Ferguslie Park volunteers bring deprived area back to life
Know Your Routes – Darkwood Crew

Paths for All has awarded £72,560 worth of grants to 44 groups across Scotland as part of the Know Your Routes campaign.

This year’s grant schemes have been funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government.

Caroline Fyfe, Strategic Paths and Funding Officer at Scottish National Heritage said:

“We’re delighted that this funding is supporting groups of volunteers like the Darkwood Crew to make a real difference in some of our most deprived areas. Good quality, accessible paths are so important for encouraging people to be more active and connect with nature in their local communities, with all the many health benefits that it can bring.

“This project is a great example of how these grant schemes are helping to transform local path networks across Scotland as part of the Know Your Routes campaign.”

From the Isle of Skye to the Scottish Borders, over 700 volunteers will be helping to transform neglected parts of their local path networks.

The money will be used for wide-ranging work including clearing debris, structural improvements, installing signage and lighting, hiring tools or contractors, promoting routes and improving biodiversity along path networks to encourage every day walking and put ‘no-go’ areas back into the hands of the community.

The estimated figure for the community groups’ volunteer in-kind contribution is calculated to be over £271,000.

Paths for All works with Scottish Government and 30 partners to support and deliver national policies, such as the National Walking Strategy and other ‘active travel’ initiatives.

The Scottish charity awards thousands of pounds worth of grants to worthwhile projects that improve health, promote walking and improve environments for people to be active in.