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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 28/06/2005

ĎEverything works better with numbersí is the line from an advert running currently on radio. And though Iím more of a words, than a numbers person myself, I think there is much truth in the impact numbers can make. Two of the numbers which have had most impact on me are the 100,000 people of economically active age in Glasgow who arenít working and the life expectancy of 64 for men in Shettleston. Both are figures which suggest that something is far wrong in the city of Glasgow. In the past it would have automatic for us to put the problem down to unemployment and so to poverty and deprivation. But Glasgow is doing well economically these days and there are labour shortages in some areas. Indeed one of the startling facts, given the 100,000 figure, is that Glasgow City Council, having steadily increased the wages for bus drivers over the past few years in the hope of recruiting drivers, is now planning to import bus drivers from Poland. Iíve no difficulty with the idea of bringing in workers, or asylum seekers, from other countries as I think Scotland would positively benefit from being more multi-cultural. But I think it a sad reflection of our culture that there is considerable unemployment in a city where employers are struggling to find enough people to fill jobs.

Of course, I know the problem in some areas of Glasgow is that there are now families where no-one has been employed for generations. But this is a problem, not so much of material poverty but a poverty of aspiration and a lack of confidence - confidence that you can hold down a job, learn new skills and get on with people.

The tick the box, target driven culture weíve moved towards in recent years is enough to put people off numbers for life yet Iím pleased to say the Centreís Action Research Training courses have proved extremely popular because practitoners see the value in beginning to measure the real impact they are making on confidence with their various interventions. Iím hoping we can really begin to build a community of enlightened practitioners who are more questioning of their own practice and who are finding ways to ensure that their work is genuinely raising confidence levels. If weíre successful díyou know what? - we might find that men in Shettleston can drive buses after all. And since having a job is a major issue for menís happiness it may well improve their health and well-being into the bargain.

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