Podcast Episode: My Life My Way: George Gordon
What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.
MM - Michael McEwan
GG - George Gordon
Michael McEwan talks to George Gordon, a part time receptionist with the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability, who has previously worked with Common Knowledge as an interviewer on the Special Olympics and as a support worker. He has also worked on the SCLD, Citizen Leadership Programme. In this episode, he talks about the challenge of attending college while working as a school traffic patroller and his advice on how to deal with bullying and verbal abuse.
MM George works at the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disabilities based in Glasgow and he is going to tell us about his life story so far. So, George thanks for coming, giving up your time to speak with us. The first question I would like to ask is, when you left school you went to college, what did you do at college?
GG When I left school I went to a college called North Glasgow in Springburn. The course that I did at that college was, it was a foundation course, it was a 2-year course with supported learning. That means it was like school, you had different subject, you could do from, like, Maths, English, Woodwork, Computing, just all subjects that you used to get at school. Em, I did that for the 2 years and gained quite a lot of good qualifications through that. It was really, really good and I got a lot of support at the college from members, the tutors at the college. I also did a 1 year step up course for the course I did. I did that for 1 year and I did that more to help me get into work, just to improve my skills, my interview skills, CV work, kind of thing, so that kind of improved that for me. After that course completed and I finished it I decided to go back and apply for a 1 year NQ computing course, but sadly, because I had a part time job there I couldn’t complete the course and I had to sadly give it up. I would have liked to have completed it but just, with travelling back and forward to college and going to the job I had, it just wouldn’t work out, I just found it too hard and it was too stressing to do it.
MM The follow up question to that, before I ask you the second question, George, if you might want to answer this is, did you have a say in what you wanted to do at college? Was it up to you to go to college?
GG Em, yeh, well I had heard about the course when I was at school. What actually happened was, they used to do a 1 day a week trip to the college, just to get a taster of what college would be like, so I did that every Wednesday on my last year at school. We went there every Wednesday; we did different kind of subjects just to get a taster of what college would be like. On the last couple of weeks of college, the college taster, we were asked what kind of ideas would I like to do when we leave the school and one of the courses that they had there, at that college, was the foundation course, and I was asked would I like to try that, so I applied for that course and I got it happily, so no it wasn’t a kind of choice that I was forced to go to a college, no. it was a choice I had and that course was one of them that we had a choice of, I picked that course and happily I got it.
MM Yeh, when I met you a couple of weeks ago we went over the kind of questions that we were going to ask you and you told me about your first job as a lollipop man, how did you hear about that job?
GG Ok, at first I didn’t know much about the lollipop job, or as it’s real name is, a school traffic patroller, but it was actually a lollipop lady that used to cross when I was at school and I kept in touch with her, she used to be really friendly, and she said to me that there were vacancies with Glasgow City Council, they were looking for people to become lollipop men and women and so I decided to apply for it and to give it a chance to see what I think of it. It sounded good, it was my first job, I didn’t want to go back to college again for another year so I decided I would give it a chance and apply for it. I applied for the job, I did get the job but while I was waiting on the applicants to happen that’s when I had applied for the NQ computing course, so it fell through quite hard because I had started the college course and got the job as the lollipop man at the same kind of time, so at first I was kind of trying to criss cross with it, go to the college and being able to be there at my post in time, but eventually I found it quite a bit hard and it was kind of stressing me out. I was being, 5 or 10 minutes late back at the crossing so I found that I had to decide what do I want to give up, do I give up the college course or do I give up the job and I decided that sadly I had to give the college course up. So, I gave up the NQ computing course and decided to stick with Glasgow City Council. I worked there for about 7 months.
MM You mentioned after leaving the Glasgow City Council, you moved on to join an organisation called Common Knowledge, tell us a bit more about Common Knowledge and the kind of work that you did with them.
GG I first got involved with Common Knowledge away back in 2005 when I was approached, Common Knowledge approached North Glasgow College and asked would a group of students be interested in taking part in the special Olympics, which was happening that year, and a group of us were picked to take part, in the special Olympics, as reporters and photographers, just interviewing members of the Olympic team, find out a little bit about who they are, what kind of sports they were doing, were they enjoying it, did they like doing that kind of work. So, I did that, and that was done for a whole week, doing different interviews, travelling all over Glasgow to different venues, like Scotstoun, Kelvinhall, Tollcross Leisure Centre, all different places were involved in the special Olympics. As that came to an end, I kind of didn’t hear from Common Knowledge for about a year after that. After that year, had passed I was approached by Common Knowledge, CK UK for short, if I would be interested in doing a kind of, part time work with them as a support worker. So, that was fine, I applied for the post, really happily I got the post, I started work with them in February, I think it was, 2007, and joined the team, I did a lot of work with them. The main bits of work that I did was, I worked with a group of young students, I wouldn’t say students, I would say more young adults, with a learning disability. They were in a creative writing group, which was helping their reading, helping their writing, to improve their skills, and all the work that I did with them, we created a short book, it was all short stories of their hobbies. All of them enjoying their hobbies, what they liked doing, what events they had been to, things that they have enjoyed, we created all of that into a short book with audio CD, which is was a lot of work taken into this. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of this person but, a gentleman called Gary Lewis, he’s an actor, he did the movie Billy Elliot, well he did the male voicing for the book and, there was another lady did the female, which I can’t remember the ladies name. so, both of them did the voices for us, recorded all the stories, kind of kept it on track, which was really, really good. the post was a year I was doing as a support worker, but gradually more work came in so eventually it was 2 and a half years I worked for Common Knowledge doing all different, and the organisation that approached was SCLD, The Scottish Consortium for Learning Disabilities, and they asked would I be interested in doing some freelance work for them, just to see how it goes and to see how it worked out, so I was happy to take that opportunity and I took that opportunity up. So, I joined SCLD temporarily working on the Citizen Leadership. Well, when I’m not working, when I’m not in SCLD I have quite a few interests. I tend to, I like to do some gardening work, so I am kind of good with my hands, I like getting my hands dirty doing gardening. I also like doing DIY kind of work, so I tend to try and be the handyman around the house and try and do things myself. If they don’t work, then at least I have tried and I have done what I can. I also enjoy getting out and about as I have my own car and I’ve got my own van, so I kind of tend to try and get out and about with them, doing removal stuff, if I can’t fit them in the car I can use the van for that, so I tend to try and keep myself busy.
MM Can I now ask you what your disability is?
GG Yes, em, well when I was a kid I used to have really bad problems with reading and writing and I had, kind of, speech problem where I would stutter quite a lot so when I was at school I found that very difficult because I couldn’t, I had really bad problems with reading and writing, my writing was atrocious. Reading was really bad, trying to pronounce words, kind of thing, so I found that really, really hard. As I’ve got older it has improved, it’s not perfect, I still have reading problems, I still have writing problems, to make it clear, I still find that hard so, it has improved but it’s not the way it should be. It’s not as serious as it was.
MM You mentioned to me as well that, when I met you at first, you were bullied when you were at school.
GG Yes, well, when I was at school it happened to everybody at school, most people probably got bullied when they were in school, probably even yourself. Just the usual, you know, getting picked on, getting called names because you wore glasses. They used to call me all different kinds of names, they used to always call you speccy or speccy four eyes, kind of thing, just horrible names. As I have got older, you do still get the odd kind of name called out in the street but I tend to now try and ignore that and just kind of, just give them a smile and walk on, just as if I’m not really bothered anymore. You know that they are just kind of showing off in front of their friends, that’s all they are trying to do is show off, so I just tend to ignore it now and walk on and just kind of forget it and just ignore them.
MM So what would you say to other people listening to this that experience bullying, like you did, at school, what would you say to them now?
GG To people who are in school who are being bullied, don’t be scared to report it, all they are trying to do is intimidate you. they think they are better than you but they are not really, all they are is just people who probably get bullied themselves and they are trying to stick up for themselves by bullying other people, so they are just kind of trying to take the bullying off themselves so they are just bullying other people. But, like I said, don’t be scared to report it, report it to a member of staff at school. The more you ignore it, the more it’s going to make you ill, you know what I mean, so though you are not being scared and thinking, should I report it, should I not? Then, what should I do? My advice is, don’t keep it to yourself, say something, actually talk to someone about it, even if it’s a family, friend, family member, someone you trust. Tell them what’s happening and they can give you advice and then you can decide how you want to approach it.
MM Ok, thanks for your time, George, and good luck with everything that you do.
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