Humans of Pollokshields

humans of Pollokshields banner

– A PDA Facebook series –

Humans of Pollokshields is PDA’s new community engagement and research project, which involves photographing and interviewing Pollokshields locals, and sharing their stories across our social media platforms.

More about the project:

Pollokshields community members will have been invited to share about their lives and their thoughts on the positive and negative features of Pollokshields – what aspects of the area that they love, and things they would like to see improved.

This project aims to strengthen PDA’s ties with the community we work with, and to raise awareness of the work we do within the Pollokshields community and beyond. While many of us are struggling with the current Covid-19 restrictions, it’s a way for Pollokshields residents to get to know the people who live and work around them. We believe that the project will help to foster a greater sense of community spirit, in these challenging times when people are spending more of their time online, and are less able to meet and interact with their neighbours.

PDA will also compile the information given by participants on what they think about Pollokshields, to highlight common needs and concerns shared by community members in order to better design our services, and to celebrate the wonderful strengths of this unique, diverse area of Glasgow.

Meet the community members:

*The views expressed in the following interviews are those of the individuals themselves and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of PDA.

First up is Bashir,

Bashir is local shopkeeper who runs local grocery shop AL-Hamra Food Store on Albert Drive, which was passed down to him from his older brothers. He has lived in Pollokshields since the age of two and is very attached to the “strong community” here.

In his own words


We asked him what he loves about the area, and what he thinks needs to change.

The diversity of the community.

The range of local businesses that cater for the community.

“Everything is all in the local area; your hairdressers, your local shops, your coffee shops, all that kind of stuff. And obviously it’s a mixed community which is good, and every shop sort of caters for every community which I tend to do with my shop, keep everyone happy… At the end of the day we’re all local neighbours.”

The lack of parking available

“Especially with people double parking, being a school across the road there’s a risk factor with kids coming in and out where cars are double parked… I’ve got customers who come in, they can’t get parking so they go somewhere else that’s got parking. So it’s not good for businesses either.”

The large amount of rubbish on the streets

“It’s not good for the appearance of my shop when there’s beds, sofas, lying outside, it’s no nice… It’s a big issue, you go anywhere; Maxwell Road, the corners and it’s a health hazard – things could go on fire, anything could happen.”

The inadequate street lighting

“I have to put my shop lights on at night-time, and the shop across the road has to put his lights on, so at least the local residents can see where they’re walking… you know at night-time, if a person needs to walk by then they can feel secure, rather than that it’s dark… You go to Shawlands and they have LED lighting systems, it brightens the whole street up.”

Bashir praised the community spirit – his sense of pride in the area was clear:

“In general, Pollokshields itself I think is a nice place. We’ve had ups and downs innit, with the fires that happened across the road there… but it’s a matter of getting together and bringing it back up”

Our second participant is,

Matt who moved to Pollokshields two years ago with his partner and their young daughter Morag.
He and Morag were taking advantage of a rare glimmer of sunshine in Maxwell Square playpark when he kindly took a moment to share his thoughts with us. Matt revealed many reasons for moving to Pollokshields, mainly that they have lots of friends living in the area “so we already had a kind of support network in place which is really useful if you’ve got a young kid.”

We asked him what he loves about the area, and what he thinks needs to change.

The diversity of the area.

It’s a very mixed neighbourhood… I do really like the diversity, I like the mixture of people because I lived in London for a long time and it’s the same kind of vibe there – lots of different people doing very different things from different types of backgrounds.”

The community spirit

“There is a strong feeling of community. It’s harder to see because of Covid – but it’s there.”.”

Lack of services for young people 

“The one thing I think is a really big problem is a lack of services for youth especially since Covid… I think most people have the idea that youth centres and things like that are just there for, like, socialising and they have no other merits and I think that’s not true at all. Socialising is really important but also there’s lots of pathways that that can aid, vocationally and if kids can pursue their interests… Confidence, communication, networking, those are all really important things. A lot of people are very isolated at the moment but the people it’s worst for are people between like 12 and 24.”

He suggested that the community needs to come together in support of our young people:
“I talk to people in the neighbourhood and I sometimes sense a hostility towards people in that age range, there’s a lot of misunderstanding there. So that’s one thing I would want to see change, more facilities. It’s a shame there’s not any of that at the moment.”


Cheers for taking the time to chat to us, Matt!

Next up our third participant is…

 Lorraine, pictured here with her dog Baxter. Lorraine is a regular fixture around Pollokshields – she’s lived here for 49 years and her dedication to the area shows!

To start off with, Lorraine scepticism about some recent developments of “community” spaces saying “It’s no for me, not for me, not for my grandchildren. It’s community, in a way, but it’s no Pollokshields community. I don’t think a lot of the community really use that. It’s all very good and well but do you ever see people really using it?”
We asked her what she loves about the area, and what she thinks needs to change.
The community spirit
Lorraine was keen to praise the community spirit she sees in the area. “Everybody, just saying hello to everybody. That’s it, that’s the community spirit.” Indeed throughout our conversation she would pause to say hi to all of the passers-by – most of whom she knew by name! “The community, it’s changed as a whole. There’s a lot of people have moved in and moved out and now there’s a lot more people moving in and it’s nice.”
Lack of activities for young people
Lorraine feels there’s a huge lack of youth services, compared to when she was growing up.
“There was loads of clubs – loads of clubs! You went from one night, different nights, loads of things! You paid in fifty pence and you went in for the night.”
Referring again to the new community site we were chatting next to, she said “There’s a lot of older kids that would see that as childish. I see a few at the football pitch, but not many – there’s nothing [to do].”
She was keen to emphasise that young people are part of the community too. “People see the young kids as gangs. They’re no gangs! They see them as a threat, but they’re no. See, a lot of them forget they were young too. And it’s a shame. They’re no trouble, they’re just hinging about with their pals. It’s sheer boredom.”
The amount of rubbish and fly tipping in the area
“See another thing, see when they [the council] changed the bins. They got they bins in. They should have kept them where the bins were. But they’ve moved them around, and some corners don’t even have them!”
“And it’s beds, tables, everything – I mean look at that! [pointing to fly tipping] That will be there for a month, two months. And as I said to the wee guys that come around in the wee green van, I say ‘hello boys, you do know, as soon as you’ve picked that up it’ll be full again’.”
Lorraine was full of smiles and energy despite the cold weather and shared her philosophy:
“Get on with everybody. Nobody knows what anybody’s going through, if they’ve had a bad day… Just smile and you’ll see people smile back. Because you’ve broken the silence… Say hello and they say hello back, it does make a difference. And I’m happy if I’ve made someone else happy.”
Well we’re sure everyone will be happy to see Lorraine’s smiling face!
Thank you Lorraine & Baxter
We did our fourth interview with Jason!

Jason has strong ties to Pollokshields, going back generations to his grandparents who grew up here.

He asked us to share this lovely picture of him with his beloved late grandfather, whose vacant shop Jason transformed into G.S.Launderette eight years ago.

Many of his customers assume that the name of his business stands for “Good Service” (which as he pointed out is a great compliment!) – but Jason shared that it’s actually the initials of Gurbachan Singh, his grandfathers’ name.

He told us how he started his laundrette: “I thought, what would be useful for the area? My mother used to go to Allison Street, to the dry cleaners. And I thought that would be useful, you know, cos none of the area has a laundrette. So it took a few years to get off the ground and start getting established, you know, but now I’ve got my regular customers, people bringing their weekly washes.”

We asked him what he loves about the area, and what he thinks needs to change.

The friendliness of the Pollokshields’ community

“I think it’s just, och, you know, like a nice community. The good thing about working here as well, you’re always seeing old friends, old faces. Since I used to go to school, you always bump into old faces and you can talk. It’s nice.”

The amount of littering and fly-tipping in the area 

“I just feel like in the area, it’s a lot of rubbish. I think there’s a lot of people that don’t like that.” “There’s a big sign there as well, it’s a £40,000 fine but people just tend to empty kitchens, they’re just throwing outside, old sofas. Some days you come out and it’s fridges and freezers – right next to the sign that says £40,000 fine!” He joked that people must have so much money that paying the fine is a small price to pay for the convenience of dumping their rubbish in the street!

 Jason was full of positivity about Pollokshields – we are sure his grandfather would be very proud of his commitment to their much-loved community.

Thank you Jason!
This week we meet Shona!

Shona, a performance artist who has lived in Pollokshields for nearly six years. PDA chatted with her in Maxwell Square playpark, one of her favourite spots in Pollokshields to bring her children.

In her own words:

“Here you always meet people. It’s really sociable. That’s what I kind of like about Pollokshields, it feels like a good place for the kids. It feels like a community, you know.”

Shona was a master of multi-tasking – conducting the interview while supervising her kids, and comforting her son who had hurt himself. Special thanks for taking part under these circumstances, Shona!

We asked her what she loves about the area, and what she thinks needs to change.

The amount of local amenities

“There’s lots of things going on , you’ve got the library, the Tramway and The Hidden GardensThe Bowling Green, Pollokshields is really good as well. It’s just got a nice atmosphere about it and it’s not too far from town.”

Reckless driving

“I guess the only thing I would say that I don’t like about it is the fast driving, seems a bit dangerous.” She highlighted that as a cyclist and a mother of young children, the amount of fast cars in the area concerns her.

Cheers for giving your views Shona! 

This week’s Human of Pollokshields is Muna,

Muna has spent many years living in the area.

In her words –

“I’m from Pakistan but I’ve been here 50 years – so I don’t know which background, Pakistani or British!”

Normally, she spends a lot of time travelling around the country, visiting her four children, but this past year there’s been a lot of “sitting home, fed up.”

We met at The Bowling Green, Pollokshields  which Muna says has helped her through lockdown. She said “Honestly, if this place not exist, I’d get depressed… I was thinking the other day, what would we do without Bowling Green? Sit inside and watch television, and get sore eyes… It’s really like my home, honestly, I feel like that.” She mentioned that The Bowling Green can be accessed by anyone who wants to use it on weekdays. “Just now you can phone Tabassum, and she can open.”

We asked her what she loves about the area, and what she thinks needs to change.

Good local amenities

“Nice shops. People come from all over to shop here… In lockdown, the shop across the road, they ask me if you want anything we can deliver… and they delivered, leave on my door.”
“And council is really nice, they listen. And PDA, and Bowling Green, and like Tramway, they are really good, they really lift the area.”

Friendly Community

“I just spend time here with friends, more life here… I think is very close community”

The Bowling Green

“This one, I really appreciate. I always come and Tabassum kindly offers tea and is really nice. Is different from the park, we grow veg, fruits, and they offer soup. We have a chair and sit and blether.”

Amount of cars in the area and lack of parking

“I don’t like one thing, is too many cars, no parking place… Parking is a problem”
Her main wish was for more parking in the area – and more parks!

Too much litter and fly-tipping

“You know where the doctor’s surgery is, on the corner, is always a big dump. Why don’t they do something?”

She highlighted that fly-tipping is often done by people from outside the area and mentioned a time when some rubbish left outside her home had letters with a Paisley address. “I can’t believe the Paisley people, they leave a bag here… I wish the council could send fine. They could find the address and send a fine. I wish I could do that.”

Despite this, she still feels that our community has a responsibility to keep the area tidy.

“I wish people love and look after the place, you know.”

Lovely chatting with you, Muna! 


Our Human of Pollokshields this week is Henry,

Henry is a legal agent who has lived in Pollokshields since 2014, after living in the Netherlands for 22 years. He made a conscious decision to look for a home here on moving back: “It was an active choice to come, it wasn’t accidental”.

We spoke to him when he was out walking his dog Rowan, and he had lots to say about Pollokshields.

We asked her what she loves about the area, and what she thinks needs to change.

The People who Live Here

“I like the area and I like the diversity of the people that you meet in and around the area.”

The Location and Transport Links

He praised the handy location Pollokshields has and its connection to the rest of the city. “I also very much like the proximity to the centre of Glasgow – it’s very well connected with buses and trains and the subway down at Shields Road. So that creates a lot of convenience.”

The Litter

“One of the things that distresses me is the litter.” Henry spoke about how he likes to get involved with local initiative Polish the Shields, which unfortunately has been on hold over lockdown. “I mean on a personal basis I go out with my litter picker. But when there’s an organised activity there’s more people, so you actually feel you’re part of the community but you’re also trying to do something for the community. What distresses me is that people just keep continuing. You can clean it up on Saturday and the following day you’re looking at rubbish. It’s the bane of my life!”

He highlighted that services are sometimes inadequate which leads to vermin problems. “Even the council bins don’t get emptied so then you get overflow, and then you get animals coming in and it’s not conducive to good things.”

Amount of cars in the area and lack of parking

“I don’t like one thing, is too many cars, no parking place… Parking is a problem”
Her main wish was for more parking in the area – and more parks!

Not Enough of a Range of Shops

“I would like to see some more diversity in the shops on Albert Drive because it’s the same old same old, convenience stores and dress shops. It serves a function clearly but it’s not very diverse.”

The fires on Albert Drive

He described the recent fires at Albert Cross as “tragedies”. “That’s really quite sad. I actually have a friend that lives in one of these flats who’s been homeless for a year and a half. Since that burnt down that building’s been declared as unsafe, but he’s been shunted around without any permanent accommodation. He’s self-employed, so he can’t get access to his equipment. So it’s quite a tragic situation.”

He expressed some anxiety about the future of the space. “I hope they do something sensible when they rebuild that, I really do. Cos they were quite iconic buildings.”

On balance though, Henry clearly has a lot of love for the area (his “Pollokshields” hat is clear evidence of that!)

He finished our chat by praising the community again:

“I’ve just walked from Maxwell Park and I’ve bumped into three different people… that’s what I do like, there is a friendliness to the people that live in this area.”

Thank you Henry for an open and honest interview!

Karen is our Human of Pollokshields this week.

Karen is a local childminder who’s always out with the kids in the park – “hail, rain or snow”. She’s lived in the same flat here for 33 years and says she “wouldn’t dream of leaving Pollokshields”.

She’s full of insight about how the area has changed over the years – “Well, do you know, I’ve watched Pollokshields change dramatically over the years – I think probably for the better.”

We asked her what she loves about the area, and what she thinks needs to change.

The Community

“It’s a great place to live – there’s a great community in it. That’s the one thing I’d say really has going for it… there’s a great community spirit, you see the same faces. And I think the people who do move into the area generally stay.”

She spoke positively about the ethnic diversity of the community and was glad to reflect on how she sees less racist behaviour than in the past: “You know, I think people behave a bit better now. There was a lot of racism in Pollokshields when the Asian community started coming in… You would hear it day after day from white folks – and their kids were allowed to be racist! Because the parents were racist, you know? But people are better educated now… Every now and then you will hear it, but not like it used to be.”

Great Outdoor Spaces

“We’re lucky in Pollokshields – we have everything on our doorstep, we have the The Hidden Gardens, we have the allotments which is my favourite place in the whole world. I do miss the Hidden Gardens, because we used to spend a lot of time down there. It’s a great spot – there’s always people about it, and you can have a cup of coffee and a wander around – and it’s great for the kids.

The Bowling Green’s a great little spot, now they’ve opened that up”

She highlighted that the pandemic has brought lots of people outdoors to enjoy their local green spaces. “I’m hoping that children will be out more and people will be out more. That people will use the facilities more. I’ve spent the last 33 years going to Maxwell Park and then during the pandemic it was packed and you think ‘come out and enjoy it!’ That’s what it’s there for.”

The Litter

“There’s some points that have really gone downhill – the litter is really horrendous. It’s my biggest nightmare. I don’t know how to solve that problem, but I think it’s quite a Glaswegian thing – it’s not only Pollokshields.”

“If you watch Kenmure Street – the far side of Albert Drive is a tip. And this side, there isn’t as much litter on this side as there is on the other side. So there is that divide.”

Karen is frustrated at how preventable some of the littering is: “There’s a recycling bin, a big blue recycling bin across the road from me and people go as far as there and drop the recycling on the ground! And you think ‘you were so close! Just that little bit further…’”

She did say though that she sees an increase in the community working together to solve the litter problem: “There seems to be a whole thing going on, to clean up the area to bring it up to some sort of standard, and yeah, that’s good that people want to get involved in their communities… You see people out picking up litter, households out picking up litter trying to bring the area up and you know it really adds community because you stop and talk to people. And it makes other people stand up too and say ‘maybe I’ll do a bit of that!’”

Council Services

“Actually I think the council could do a lot more in the area, you know, to empty the bins more frequently… And they don’t give out enough bins.”

Speaking to Karen while she pushed her grandson round Maxwell Square was a joy. She was full of enthusiasm about the area and about the benefits of enjoying the local green spaces. Above all, she said “You’ll never die of boredom living in Pollokshields! There’s always something going on.”

Thank you Karen for talking to us!

Project by Jennie Bates:

Jennie Bates is an intern at Pollokshields Development Agency. She is a practicing artist with experience of delivering community arts and therapeutic arts activities. She is currently working towards an HNC Working with Communities qualification at Glasgow Kelvin College, and is undertaking a workplace practice placement with PDA in order to get a better understanding of the issues and challenges in her local area, and how she can help to tackle them.