Fernhill: A story from Kirstin

By 10th June 2020 Community Stories
Maxine & Kirstin Fernhill

Maxine and Kirstin, Ohana Club in Fernhill


We are very grateful to Kirstin for sharing her story with us and joining in on the #SameStormDifferentBoat conversation.

Before the lockdown

I had recently formed a new group with some other local parents called The Ohana Club. Ohana means family. We had successfully launched our pilot community cinema project in February and had an upcoming trip to five sisters zoo all planned and booked for local families at the start of April. We, like many community groups, were planning holiday programmes and trying to source and secure funding to deliver our ambitious plans.

At the start

We went through a period of confusion. We had to shelf our plans and figure out how to respond in a way that would benefit the community. Emergency response isn’t what the group was set up to do but given the vast number of contacts the group had managed to make in the short time since it began it became difficult to ignore the stories of people in the area struggling. As a group we reached out to local families and attempted to understand what issues people faced and tried to identify solutions and ideas to help people.

Along the way

We were able to secure funding from the Scottish Government Supporting Communities Fund to help local families. We are using the money to provide three key areas of support to local families, these are

  • Weekly mobile phone top-ups
    • this allows people to stay connected with their loved ones from a distance
  • Weekly home energy top-ups
    • this allows families to keep the lights on while trying to cope with increased energy costs from being at home more during lockdown
  • Weekly shop vouchers
    • this allows families to keep the kitchen stocked up while trying to cope with increased food costs while the whole family stays home

This vital support provided to families has been well received with one local parent saying,

“I like that it’s a supermarket voucher rather than a bag of food every week cause I don’t want everybody to know I’m getting help.”

In an ideal world…

Obviously, in an ideal world we wouldn’t be facing Coronavirus, but in a world where we face these issues we have identified a few key things we feel would benefit the community.

The importance of community space
We feel having some kind of accessible space within the community where activity could be coordinated from, would not only make it easier for us as a group to deliver this vital support, but it would also mean we would be able to reach more people and broaden the type of support we could deliver.

We know not all families have the ability to get online so having access to a physical space would enable the creation of a drop box system that would let people communicate their needs offline and access support like their more connected peers.

What I have learned

I know from doing community work in Fernhill over the past few years that stigma around poverty is a massive issue, but I didn’t think people would still feel this this because I felt like we are all in the same boat when it comes to coronavirus. But I’ve learned we actually aren’t. With lockdown, we are all in our own little boats and some boats have more supplies than others. So we are all experiencing rough seas right now, it’s just that some of our boats aren’t really equipped to weather the storm on our own.

Looking to the future…

We are currently providing a much needed financial buffer for families that emergency and direct support isn’t.

What I am interested in?

I’m interested in bringing people together, building networks and connections and strengthening the bonds between families in my community. I just look forward to getting back to some kind of normal that will let that happen, so we can come back from this stronger and closer than ever before.

Thank you Kirstin for sharing your experience and hopes for the future with Corra.  We are so grateful for voices like yours. 

At Corra, we believe every voice matters.  When people are heard, power shifts towards them and they can help create the change that matters to them.

If you want to join in on the conversation and you feel your voice is not being heard, please contact shasta@corra.scot and we can have a chat.

Fernhill, is one of the communities Corra works alongside. You can find out more about Getting Alongside Communities by clicking here.

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