Inspiring Leith is a community development project that works together with the community of Leith to strengthen and mobilise pre-existing or new community projects in the neighbourhood such as Cinema Clubs, Garden Groups and Knitting Groups.

Here is Link-Up Coordinator, Colin Campbell to tell us more:

Hi Colin, what is your role at Bethany?

My job title is the Inspiring Leith Link-Up Co-ordinator. With Link Up, we aim to support local people build positive relationships with one another. We want to help people, help others to help themselves. For me personally, it is also about demonstrating the Love of God to the people of Leith.

How long have you worked at Bethany?

Just about 6 years.

What is Inspiring Leith?

Inspiring Leith is an asset-based community development project that looks to mobilise the assets and strengths of the people of Leith to improve their community, fight injustice and have fun. Myself and Hannah Kitchen-Kirby facilitate groups that bring people together around shared interests and concerns. For example, we help run a walking group, needlework group, two community gardens and a monthly music and spoken word evening. The work is funded and supported by Inspiring Scotland who fund social change across the country and is ‘hosted’ by Bethany who provides day-to-day support and encouragement.

What is your favourite thing about the work of Inspiring Leith?

That’s easy, the people of Leith! What a diverse, inspiring, proud, determined bunch they are. There is a spirit in Leith that I have only ever experienced in one other town. Despite the problems the community is facing people maintain a lust for life and a pride in the place. It’s this spirit that enables the community to persevere through the tough times. Inspiring Leith hopes to foster more of that spirit through its work.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Our days revolve around the groups we support, we can be learning to upcycle an old necktie one minute while the next be weeding a vegetable patch with some kids. Often, I find I’ll have a plan for my day when it starts but the community may have other ideas! I’m constantly reminded that Jesus was constantly being stopped and waylaid everywhere he went. These ‘interruptions’ were where Jesus made people feel significant and valued. People we work with face all sorts of challenges from food insecurity to problems with benefits and insecure accommodation. Being flexible to meet their needs and concerns is one way we can show them how much we value them. It’s a huge part of mine and Hannah’s working day.

What role does Inspiring Leith play in Bethany’s homeless prevention work?

Inspiring Leith is part of Bethany’s focussed response to specific communities which are facing significant challenges. We work in Sighthill, Moredun, and Leith in Edinburgh and Menzieshill in Dundee and Aberdeen city centre. These projects look to build on what’s strong about a community, not what’s wrong; providing support to citizens that want to make a positive difference to their community. By supporting people to connect with others to make their dreams for their community a reality we can improve social bonds, aid the local economy and help people express their gifts in a meaningful way. All factors that can prevent people becoming homeless.

If you could give someone a piece of advice on how to help the homelessness crisis in Scotland, what would that be?

The causes of the crisis raise serious questions about our politics, culture and society. As a result, there are so many ways people can respond and get involved to help bring an end to that crisis. Learning more about the issues around homelessness can help us to formulate our response based on our own skills, gifts and resources. That may be committing to stop and speak to a homeless person each week, writing to your MSP or MP, or volunteering your time to campaign or fundraise. Everyone has a role to play, find yours.

Thanks so much for your time Colin!