Positive Community Relationship Programme

The Spark’s Positive Community Relationships target group is young parents and prospective young parents.  The Children and Young People team delivers a 6 week group work programme which is underpinned by relationship education enabling the participants to gain skills which will help in all areas of their lives.


As the former co-ordinator, my experience of participants’ learning mostly came through anecdotal evidence from written evaluations.  I read how the programme helps young people explore the deeper roots of sectarianism in Scotland. I witnessed clear expressions of the definitions of sectarianism shift from football and religion to deeper constructs like identity and group belonging. As a new Youth Development Worker, seeing the discussions unravel in real-time has brought what I read in those evaluations to life.  Some young people have heard of sectarianism but don’t know what it involves whereas others know what it is but do not know that it has a word to describe it.  As an Indian, I did not ever experience sectarianism directly/personally, therefore I sometimes felt like I could not comment.  However the safe space created in these groups allows for young people to come with whatever experience they have and develop their learning from there, which I feel adds to how powerful this work is as it does not exclude anyone.


I would say that many of the young people would comment that football sectarianism has lessened in Glasgow but they would also bring up current immigration issues as well as the current terrorist threat.  Some young people have commented that racism starts at home. I think the programme is good in challenging young people to think about traditions and customs, where their own values originate and how they behave regarding these. It also educates and gives perspective on the current refugee crisis by relating things like the potato famine in Ireland to the streets of Glasgow, drawing similarities to desperate immigrants fleeing their homeland in search of a better life or survival.


What makes it worthwhile for me as a facilitator is providing an opportunity for young people to express their views without feeling judged. They have a forum to discuss their opinions even though they might be quite extreme or racist. Giving them a safe space to explore their values and beliefs enables them to feel validated.  Acknowledging their beliefs and values creates an opportunity to challenge sectarian or extremist views. This challenge sometimes comes from themselves, their peers or from the facilitator. When this is done in a respectful and sensitive way, it can usually lead to positive change for the young person and in my experience, increases their confidence as they feel more connected to their wider community.


We asked each of our participants what they felt they had learned in taking part in this programme. Below are some of their responses:

"I learned that you can't judge people for who they are because we are all the same."

"I have learned different things about criticism, that we are all the same and we should love each other."

"I have learned that everyone is equal."

"I learned that no matter what religion or race you are we are all the same."

"I have learned to be yourself."

"I learned that it does not matter what age or race you are we all the same."


Website: www.thespark.org.uk

Twitter: @SparkScotland