Greater Govanhill Magazine: Sharing Positivity in a Pandemic

Posted: 14 December 2020, in News

New community magazine Greater Govanhill aims to challenge negative stereotypes, break down cultural barriers and provide a platform for typically under-represented voices. Launching in 2020, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan, but this weekend 5,000 free copies of the first issue were published to be distributed in Glasgow. If you don’t live locally, you can pick up a copy here.

Greater Govanhill issue 1

The idea for Greater Govanhill came not long after moving to the neighbourhood. Every time I took a taxi home, I’d have to sit through the entire journey with the driver telling me just how bad the area was. And it wasn’t just taxi drivers. Search for Govanhill online or on social media and you can get lost down a rabbit hole of negative comments, many of which are based on incorrect assumptions and made by people who live outside the area.

The reality I found was quite different. I loved living in such an incredibly culturally diverse neighbourhood. Every time I left the house, I’d encounter different people and see something new. There’s a real sense of community in Govanhill, and there are so many amazing projects and social enterprises based here.

The difference between how Govanhill is perceived and the reality I encounter was what spurred me on to launch a new community magazine; one which focused on the positive and celebrated diversity.

Founder, Rhiannon Davies

I’m a journalist with a background in both magazines and community development, so launching a community magazine seemed like such a natural blend of my skills. However, I have absolutely no experience in running my own business. So, I joined the Melting Pot’s Good Ideas incubator programme. Over six months, it helped me to take the project from an idea to incorporation.

In January, I publicly announced the project, and in February I held two public drop-ins and ran an online survey to find out what people wanted from the magazine. It felt like there was a good amount of support and momentum behind the project, and I put plans in place to launch the magazine in May.

But then, of course, everything changed. Plans to Crowdfund a brand-new project didn’t feel right when so many existing organisations were struggling. Funders put decisions on hold. So, I postponed the print magazine.

Instead, I launched the website, and used it to share good news stories from the local community and useful information such as about who was delivering food, or where to buy a locally-made face mask. It was also a chance to build community awareness and a social media following.

I was fortunate to continue my start-up journey by getting a place on the School of Social Entrepreneur’s Start Up Plus programme. This six-month course was a chance to connect with other social entrepreneurs across the country and learn from the experiences of successful social enterprises. It also came with a small grant, provided by Brewin Dolphin.

In September this year, when the time felt right, I launched a Crowdfunder with the aim of publishing 5,000 copies of the magazine to be distributed for free around the neighbourhood. By publishing hard copies, it will be possible to reach those who might be digitally excluded or not be on social media. I was overwhelmed by the support the project received.

Comments included:

“A wonderful and much needed initiative to empower voices at a local level, connect the community and share stories! All power to you.”

“Good luck, I was born and brought up in Govanhill. Great to see positive news about the place.”

“Love this idea! What a brilliant way to bring the community we love being a part of together! Wishing you the best of luck!”

Once the target was achieved, it was full steam ahead. I put out a call for contributions and got in touch with local community groups to try and get as diverse a range of voices as possible. Govanhill is one of the most multicultural areas of Scotland. And it was important for the magazine to reflect that. In general, the media is dominated by middle class, white, male voices. Giving a platform to marginalised groups is a big part of the project.

It had an incredible response. In total over 60 people contributed in some way to the first issue, whether writing, translating, editing or providing photography, illustration or design. Across 52 pages, the magazine included over 30 original articles, published in seven different languages besides English. Contributors ranged in age from 12-89 and we featured a number of LGBT+, disabled, Black and minority ethnic voices.

On Saturday, 12 volunteers hit the streets delivering 2,000 copies to local shops, cafes and other open public spaces. Over the next week I’ll be working with local food banks, community groups and aid organisations to get the rest out to those who are most isolated in our community.

It’s only just been published, but so far the comments have been incredibly positive. I’m trying to collect as much feedback as possible in order to make the second edition of the magazine even better. The aim is to publish quarterly in the first year, moving up to bi-monthly after that. All the articles will be published online after the print issues have been published.

If you don’t live in the area, but would like to read a copy, you can order one from our website for just £3. Even if you don’t know Govanhill, there will hopefully be something of interest to you in it. And if you run a social enterprise and might be interested in advertising in the next issue, you can get in touch here.

Rhiannon J Davies
Greater Govanhill CIC