Common rubbish

What do a brothel, a graduate, a drug dealer and a family with a young baby have in common? ... check out recent graduate Owen Chamberlain's account of how to love your neighbour in the post-uni world...

We read all the time in the Bible that we are meant to help our neighbours. However, if you’re anything like me, you get bored of helping the old dear from number 49 cross the road AGAIN, and watching the neighbours kids (who are completely insane) scares the living daylights out of you.

So, what can you do?

I've recently moved into one of the most deprived areas of Glasgow, and it seems like an uphill battle. Within the 8 flats of my block there is a brothel, a drug dealer, a rubbish processing flat, and a few families of varying sizes! Oh, and they are all from different nationalities, with different customs, and are mostly really poor!

However, one thing that we all share in common is that we all create lots of rubbish. But this rubbish is dealt with in varying ways. So, Sunny across the hall puts it neatly in the bins round the back. The Brothel staff, I'm not sure yet.  The family on the 4th floor reckon nappy disposal is best done through what I term the "window launchpad technique".

Literally, outside of our ground floor window the occasional nappy descends at terminal velocity. And lands. With a bang.


But, the people of Glasgow are worth more than this! And so are that family. Who am I to judge what has caused such abject poverty; but I can make a difference. One nappy at a time!

I'm living with a family at the moment, and we decided to litter pick. The 10 year old kids got involved. Even Ali, one of Sunny’s kids came out and joined us for a couple of hours. I can't say it was pleasant in the slightest, but 3 hours later and the place was looking good!

However, the story isn't just about waste. While we were cleaning up, people stopped and chatted with us. In one street alone in my section of Glasgow, 54 different languages are spoken. It's a cultural minefield, but rubbish is a uniting factor. It's great to chat with people, and see others inspired to get out cleaning as well. Clean Neighbourhood really does equal Clean Hearts.

And it's on going; I noticed that some empty drinks cans had been left on the bit of ground we cleared outside our window. And this was the next day! It seems to be never ending; but it's ironic in some ways, because just as we think we have reached out to everyone around us, someone else always manages to turn up.

Exciting isn't it?!

Pippa Elmes

Ministry Training Leader

Pippa supports those in church based student ministry to do their job really well. She loves challenging churches to work with students and equipping them to pioneer new mission opportunities to reach students.                     

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