Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Govanhill Slums (2)

In the Govanhill area of Glasgow, poverty is high and worker exploitation is commonplace. Parts of Govanhill are ranked among the most deprived in the country, according to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. Local agencies highlight overcrowding, poor housing and rogue landlords as the key problem.

Figures obtained by the BBC show that of a study of 310 local Roma people, most were working but that more than a third were receiving less than the minimum wage. Govanhill has one of the largest concentrations of Roma people in the UK. There are 42 different languages spoken in Govanhill, but a glance at social media would suggest that all the migrants in the area are Roma. They are often blamed for what goes wrong in the community.

Ch Insp Graham McInarlin, the area commander, said Govanhill did not merit its reputation "There are a number of myths in the area. If we are to believe everything we read then the Roma are responsible for all crime in the area. In actual fact we know that is not the case. We do know that a number of Eastern Europeans in the area are very reluctant to report crime."

Marek Balog, originally from Slovakia said: "People are coming to Scotland to work, not live off benefits. They are willing to work for less than the minimum wage. About 30-40% work for less than the minimum wage. Some have to do it to survive.” Calina Toqer, from Romania said some women were so poor they raked through the charity clothes bins.

Jim Monaghan, head of the Govanhill Baths Community Trust,
said: "Poverty is the main problem in the area and has been for a long time. The problems came here before the Roma. Sometimes it's exacerbated by the amount of people and lack of housing but that's not about who the people are. There's a lot of one-bedroom flats. They're easy to get without references and so people gravitate here. People that already have problems gravitate here. There's far too many people living here. Years ago it was 8,500. Now it's 14,000."

 A study found that local Roma were fed-up with the rubbish on the streets and in the closes. New figures show that since January the council has collected 900 tonnes of waste and recyclable material from domestic and commercial premises in the area. In addition, they've collected 485 tonnes of illegally fly-tipped material from pavements and lanes.

In the past four years there have been 1,428 incidences of mites such as bed bugs and fleas, and 1,864 incidences of cockroaches. Rachel Moon, of Govanhill Law Centre, said: "Govanhill has the highest concentration of cockroaches in Scotland. Quite often they just travel up and down the flats and it is really difficult to eradicate them. It is made so much worse by fly-tipping by private landlords. Rather than buying new mattresses they just take them from the street and it goes round in a circle. We have had clients with pock marks all over their arms and their children have pock marks all over their arms and they are sitting scratching because of all the lice and bed bugs. Often people don't want to have anything to do with public authority. They don't want to give evidence or take a case. They just want somewhere to live. Many clients are getting paid less than the minimum wage but they say they are happy to have a job."

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