Growing up in Pollok made me a campaigner


Stephen Logie grew up campaigning for better housing in one of Scotland's biggest estates. He believes the experience made him what he is today 

9th July 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

When I was 12 my parents faced what was then known as a warrant sale. They were for people like us who couldn’t afford to pay the rent. The council basically sold your goods from under you. It wasn’t unusual for your house to become a salesroom: neighbours could actually come round and buy your furniture from under you. It was that barbaric.

Growing up in Glasgow’s Pollok meant there was always an eviction or a warrant sale every other week. In the early 80s it was really tough. Unemployment was high and wages even for skilled workers were low.  It was difficult for families to make ends meet.

We wanted to stop people being forced from their houses. At that young age I thought it was wrong and that people were being humiliated. So when the Poll Tax came in that was our chance. I was aged 16 and in Pollock we all took to the streets to protest. Tommy Sheridan, who lived locally, was one of the organisers and I remember thinking we would win this fight.

We also set up what we called strike teams – groups of campaigners who would harass sheriff officers trying to evict families. We did the same for warrant sales. It is in no small part to our campaigning back in the 80s that these sales were eventually banned.   

All this shaped my thinking and my career. I ended up working in housing myself. After college I became a housing officer for East Renfrewshire Council before I moved into social work. There I helped house and re-locate struggling families. All the while I have volunteered on the board of housing associations - Queens Cross and Maryhill to name just two - then when Glasgow Housing Association was established I became part of the Local Housing Organisations (LHOs) which make sure local people have an input to housing decisions made in their area.

To this day when people ask what I do for a living I say I’m a housing campaigner. I might be a social worker by day but my heart is in housing. Even as a social worker it’s mostly housing I deal with. It’s the biggest issue facing Scots today. Young people leaving school can get work but they can’t get affordable housing. That’s why so many are staying with their parents into their 30s. It’s not because they want to; it’s because their jobs don’t pay enough to afford them a mortgage.

Campaigning has changed. There isn't so much outrage at homelessness and lack of accommodation as there should be. It's such a huge problem: school leavers today might never be able to afford the house they will need to bring up a family. But the government is getting away with it becuase few are holding ministers to account.