‘There’s more to Glasgow’s Easterhouse estate than deprivation’, says Ian Monteague, chair of Family Action in Rogerfield and Easterhouse (FARE), a community charity based in one of Glasgow’s toughest areas. He has lived and worked in Easterhouse for most of his life, and knows the anguish of relating to an alcoholic father, the challenges of gang culture and the crippling impact of ‘social discontent’.

At the age of 15, Monteague had a ‘vivid awakening’ to the fact that ‘things needed to change’ and ‘I needed to do it’. He started to attend public meetings and dared to ‘frame questions’ to those in power.

Monteague is guided by his Christian faith, and knew early that his ‘calling’ was to work at community level. He trained as a teacher. His first job, at the age of 19, was as a youth worker with the Easterhouse gangs – a job that nobody wanted. 

FARE was set up in 1989, by local people who were frustrated about the lack of amenities in Easterhouse. Most of the charity’s projects focus on youth. Gang culture, Monteague says, draws on the human need to belong. FARE’s projects help young people to see that ‘there’s more to me than being in a gang’ or ‘there’s more to me than being deprived’. The projects’ success is based on working and standing together in ‘spiritual energy’.

‘We have worked with a number of agencies – the police, fire and rescue,’ says Monteague. Anti-social behaviour and crime has reduced overall by 55 per cent since 2007, according to Scottish police statistics. ‘Even in times of social deprivation community spirit can rise from adversity,' says Ian.

Read the full article on Ian only in Changemakers.