“Having grown up in a Council Housing scheme during the fifties and early sixties, my memories of my childhood fill me, even to this day, with a feeling of warmth and of feeling loved. There were thirty-two flats in our part of ‘the ‘scheme’ and three or four children living in each flat. We all played on the square in front where all of the front windows overlooked or in the back greens where most of the back windows overlooked. The ‘Mums’ were only a shout away and it just seemed to be endlessly playing outside. There were five children in our family and I still remember every single child and adult from the hundred-plus who lived there.
We played skipping with lengths of washing rope, (I can still remember all of the songs), peevers with old polish tins filled with dirt and pieces of old broken ornaments saved up to use as chalk to mark out the peevery beds on the pavement, games of houses that went on for days and big huge community games of hide-and-seek that never seemed to end. If you got hungry or just wanted to see your Mum you went up the stairs for a ‘piece-on-jam’. I always had pals with me and they always got one from my Mum too. We were free to let our imaginations run riot and organised back green concerts with chairs brought down from the various houses for the audience, and Montril diluting juice on sale for tuppence a cup. Sometimes my Mum would shout me up to take a container of soup along to a family nearby and I was always to say “My Mum made too much!” (Bless you Mum).
One really exciting time was when my pal’s Dad, who used to breed budgies, gave us the budgie hut to use for ourselves as long as we cleaned it all out. It was a horrible job, but we managed it and I used it as the headquarters for my newly formed Do-Gooders club, where a group of us used to plan out and do good things for old people who lived in the neighbourhood! My Mum made gingham curtains and gave us a rug and some cushions and a wee table! All of these things taught me a lot of the values that I have today. Within my family, I felt loved and ‘special’ and outside I felt accepted and liked by my pals. We knew that some people who lived there were not as fortunate as us, but we were never allowed to judge. Every child deserves to feel special, loved and cared for and to have their creativity encouraged so that they can thrive emotionally. Feeling part of a wider community can promote a sense of belonging and a feeling of being safe. I’ve certainly taken these things with me all through my life.”
A long way away from childhood
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