PART II: Problems, big or small: The Well is here to help
When the founders of The Well researched what the people of Govanhill needed and wanted from a new community-minded organisation, they discovered that there was demand for two things: a place where women could meet quietly and safely, and a place where anyone could go and get advice.
This has been at the heart of our mission ever since, and we have maintained the ability to help people with problems big and small throughout our long relationship with Govanhill. We’re committed to spending time with people to understand their problems in depth. Sometimes this requires patience on both sides. But it’s important to respect the importance of sorting out problems properly, whether this is in relation to a difficult piece of paperwork or a problematic divorce.
The Well is a listening service – and we listen always without prejudice.
Mohammed*: Stand up for your rights, with help from The Well
“The Well helped me to befriend other people and helped me with family issues”
I was born Pakistan. I came to London and then to Glasgow; I had a friend from my home city who was based here. It seemed okay here. You’ve got mixed culture in Govanhill – as if lots of people had come from somewhere else to live here. It felt multicultural.
Before when I lived in London, people told me that there would be no jobs and it would be hard work; I worked at a chip shop. When I came to Glasgow, I found it easier to get a job in a restaurant. I worked longer days because I was new. I was told my wages were low because I was new. When I came I didn’t have a visa, so I didn’t get the minimum wage – that was the story at that time.
I worked at a takeaway restaurant and got more experience in cooking; I love to cook – chapatis from scratch, or mixed peppers with curry spices and potatoes. I’m always cooking at home. I can’t work nighttimes though, because I’m a single parent.
I first came to the Well in 2007 around the time when my son was born in Glasgow. My wife was from a Nordic country and we had to apply for my son’s passport certificate, and we needed some help with the paperwork. My friend had heard about The Well and told us it would be helpful. My English wasn’t very good at that point, and my wife also didn’t have much English. We spoke to a translator at The Well in Urdu.
If ever I need any help, I go there. There is never any problem. The fact that the services are free means you can understand things and get advice and know the next options. I have a visa now, but it was a long wait.
We had some issues with my wife’s family; they weren’t happy that we were married. My wife passed away 10 years ago; now it’s just me and my son. We came here after it happened and The Well helped me to befriend other people and helped me with family issues with my in-laws about custody of my son. I came to The Well and talked it through to find a solution. They found the right people to help me.
The Well is a place that helps make connections with other people. But they’re also helpful with small things like a phone bill. You need to wait sometimes, but it’s the best place.
Amina*: Get settled into Glasgow with help from The Well
“Friends told us about The Well and they told us about housing assistance and how to fill in the forms. I live nearby so I thought it was worth trying”
I came to Glasgow with my family, my husband and daughters from Spain last year, but originally I grew up in Morocco. We’d been in Spain for 20 years, in Catalonia. My daughters always ask ‘when’s summer coming?’ in Glasgow. The weather is totally different here.
We feel there’s more opportunities here than in Spain; my husband is Pakistani and wanted to live in the UK, and we chose Glasgow because it’s affordable and we had friends here. The city came highly recommended.
First time we came to Glasgow we looked for a house but it was very difficult – they asked about jobs, but we weren’t settled yet. Friends told us about The Well and they told us about housing assistance and how to fill in the forms. I live nearby so I thought it was worth trying. Rhoda helped me to find English classes too. Any time I’ve had a difficult time I go there and they explain what to do next. For housing, schooling, language, work and writing a CV – all the information they gave us was correct.
I’m studying English language now in college and at Govanhill Free Church women’s group. I speak a little Urdu but my husband and I speak Spanish to each other, increasingly English.
I like to go to Chai and Chat – it’s good for my English conversation and to pick up new phrases, and to learn new things about the area, the community and Scotland. There is something special about The Well. The people who work there are so helpful and they understand different cultures, not just languages; I know many women who feel the same.
*Names changed for privacy.