I recently described Urban to a visitor. It’s often called our “moving-on space” – a place for guests to get involved with events and classes, and to build a bit of structure and routine. I listed a few of our current activities: music lessons, art class, personal training, choir, computer access. The visitor looked a bit taken aback: “you must be very talented!” Now this may or may not be the case, but the truth is that our staff, volunteers, and teachers are the talented ones. I can put together a pretty nifty spreadsheet but it’s the teams who bring it to life.
Urban members are often surprised by the instruments and technology available to them in our music studio. We have a wonderful freelance teacher, Graham. He has been teaching guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, singing and mixing here for years. Guests book in for private lessons with him and enjoy learning classics like 500 Miles on guitar, Jingle Bellson keys, or even recording and mixing original rap songs. One young woman has a weekly recording session of beautiful Iranian music. Her songs are then used by another guest who is learning sound production and makes remixes – it is incredible to hear. Just this morning, a new guest discovered the studio for the first time, picked up a guitar and played Guess that Tune with me, and left “buzzing!”
Our small but mighty gym is booked out for the duration of the week, mostly by guests living in what should be short-term city centre hotel accommodation. The days can get very long when you are stuck in the system and so a couple of sessions on the treadmill or rowing machine can help to de-stress a little. I got a text from a Ukrainian refugee today. She has been working out with us twice a week for the past month. Her text opened, “Tomorrow we are leaving the hotel, so I can’t come to the gym 🙁 ” I know she will feel relief in her new home and begin to put roots down in a community, and I’m glad that she was part of our Glasgow City Mission family for a short while.
A big part of our Urban work is to help our guests prepare and look for education and employment opportunities. Susan, our Urban Project Worker, hosts one-to-one appointments to assist guests update their CVs, register with job agencies, apply for college and lots more. Since August 2021, 12 members have found work and nine have started volunteering placements. Daniel has been accepted for two college courses next term. He was unsure of a few practicalities so met with Susan today to get some advice. She called the admissions department and sorted everything out. Daniel said with relief, “I feel more confident about my course!”
Other Urban members have spent today typing up work on our laptops, practicing the keyboard, playing Scrabble, getting new phones set up, lifting weights, sketching, and laughing. It’s such a fun and vibrant space – and I’m always looking for new teachers. If you fancy sharing your skills in poetry, bird-watching, interview skills, teaching a language, board games, running… no matter how weird or wonderful, I’m sure I can schedule you in somewhere.