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SOCIAL CAPITAL: AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE PRIVATE SECTOR WORKS WITH VOLUNTEERS TO IMPROVE COMMUNITIES

SOCIAL CAPITAL: AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE PRIVATE SECTOR WORKS WITH VOLUNTEERS TO IMPROVE COMMUNITIES

Reading some recent reports on how the state needs to be more of an enabler to help our communities got me thinking again about a scheme I have been involved in for the past 7 years. It is called Adopt a Station and is run by Scotrail. It basically allows individuals or community groups to adopt their local railway station and help improve it as a gateway to their community. This can be through gardening, providing a use for empty space in station buildings or linking into local attractions.

I adopted Whitecraigs station in the south side of Glasgow back in 2008 and restored and improved the gardens and helped arrange fabric repairs to the station (using local small businesses). The whole thing was so easy to get underway and Scotrail built in a watering tap, provided a gardening store and planters for flowers within a week of me asking to get involved. I provide my time (usually 3 hours or so a week) and Scotrail pay for the plants and station upgrades. I now have over 35 planters and 15 hanging baskets plus garden areas and have recently put up pictures of the station from its steam days through to the present in the waiting room – this has attracted a lot of positive feedback from passengers who want to see a clean, inviting station. Quite a number of passengers have said to me how nice it is to enjoy the gardens and colourful flowers while waiting for their train.

Scotrail are the perfect partner to work with and every time I come up with new ideas they help me wherever they can – there never seem to be any barriers or problems that can’t be resolved. I really think this is a great example of private sector and community involvement making an impact on our local environment. What is stopping more initiatives like this? I think there are lots of people in our communities who want to help out and get involved – it just needs to be made easy for them to get started.

Some good side effects for myself are the exercise and fresh air – especially when you leave your gardening tools at the end of a very long platform and have to walk back for them. So what I am saying is get involved in your community and help out – it is very rewarding!

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