Spirit of housing pioneer Mary Barbour lives on in Glasgow North
Four of Glasgow’s female housing leaders gathered to celebrate the spirit of one of the city’s pioneering women civic figures and to commit to closer working to build more houses.
Queens Cross Housing Association, vice chair Sadie Gordon, was this year’s recipient of the Mary Barbour Award, presented to a female in the city who has dedicated time and effort campaigning to make a positive contribution to their community.
Sadie was joined by runner up Lorain MacKinnon, a vice chair at Maryhill Housing Association, along with their chief executives Shona Stephen (Queens Cross) and Bryony Willett (Maryhill) to celebrate her success and reflect on the progress Mary made in improving housing in the city.
Mary was a political activist in the early 20th century, a fervent campaigner for fair rents and decent housing. A militant councillor and a magistrate she was a leader of the successful rent strikes of 1915.
“Having two representatives from North West Glasgow taking the top prizes at these prestigious awards shows how strong our communities are in this part of the city,” said Shona.
“Sadie has been an unstinting servant to the local community in Queens Cross for more than 40 years through her work on our board, with credit unions and with young people, this award is richly deserved.
“Although the quality of housing has improved immeasurably since Mary’s time, issues of poverty, affordable rents and availability of decent housing remain. Issues which with the dedication of people like Sadie and Lorain to get involved we are all determined to continue fight to address.”
As part of this drive to tackle issues such as housing shortages, the Queens Cross and Maryhill associations have now joined forces in a new partnership agreement to better exploit opportunities to build new homes for rent in the area and to improve the quality of existing housing.
Known as the North West Partners development hub, the aim is to build 600 homes over five years – something described by both organisations as ‘ambitious but achievable’.
It is the first time both organisations have had any kind of link up to build new homes.
Bryony Willett, chief executive of Maryhill Housing, said: “This is an important step forward as we formalise our plans. Working together to build homes which people really want is what we are all about and the co-operation will undoubtedly bring huge benefits to our communities and address local housing need.
“Another important aspect is the desire to deliver value for money in everything we do.”