Queens Park Chess Club has formally written to our two constituency representatives, Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss and Glasgow Southside MSP Nicola Sturgeon, to request clarity on a recent funding announcement, and encourage investment in grassroots chess in Scotland.
Chess does not currently receive any public funding in Scotland. In the early 2000s, Chess Scotland received a small annual grant from the Scottish Government. In letters to our MP and MSP, we argued that chess is a low-cost, popular and accessible activity that helps people to come together, have an enjoyable experience, and get to know other local people from all walks of life. We stated that encouraging social chess in local communities aligns with many public policy priorities, including reducing social isolation, improving mental wellbeing, and strengthening community development, and presents strong value for public money.
We look forward to developing a relationship with both of our representatives on this matter. Alison Thewliss has already engaged with the Chess Club, having visited our chess drop-in event at the June 2023 Bungo in the Back Lanes Festival, pictured above and below.
We join Chess Scotland in encouraging our Members and visitors, and other Chess Clubs in Scotland, to consider writing to their local MP and MSP on this matter. Following an emergency meeting on 6 August, Chess Scotland advise those writing to their local politicians to: use your postcode; mention the English Chess Federation grant; ask about the scope for a similar investment in Scotland; and write an individual letter, rather than a duplicate, as MPs and MSPs do not engage with standard campaign letters.
In early October 2022, we learned that our community grant funding bid, described below, was successful. We were one of 20 projects awarded funding. Our sincere gratitude to all who voted for us, and to the Thursday Group for their partnership support!
If successful, we will invest in chess sets, a website and public events, to support even more local people to join us to play chess, connect with others, and improve their wellbeing.
The grant distribution will be decided by residents of Govanhill via the democratic process of participatory budgeting.
If your postcode starts G42 7 or G42 8, you can vote for free via WhatsApp or text: simply send a message to 07919 364 673, with your name, address and our voting reference: K6. Voting is open now until noon on Wed 5 Oct. Both chess groups appreciate all support.
Govanhill residents can vote for up to ten local projects in total: five in the small ‘Kickstart’ grant category, and a further five in the larger ‘Action Project’ category.
Information on our proposed project follows below. Full details from all 27 proposed projects and information on how to vote is available here.
Our Proposed Project
Connecting and Supporting Govanhill Through the Ancient Game of Chess.
Queens Park Chess Club – in partnership with Thursday Chess Group.
The European Parliament recognises chess’ unique value: connecting diverse people, improving wellbeing, providing comfort. Two groups will build on existing interest in playing chess in Govanhill by improving access.
A joint proposal by two Govanhill-based groups – Queens Park Chess Club and Thursday Chess Group who wish to build on growing local interest in playing chess as a way of improving general wellbeing. Together they have established free weekly casual chess meetups on Tuesday evenings in Wellcroft Bowling Club, on Thursday evenings in Brodies Bar, and on Sunday mornings at the Queens Park boating pond.
The purpose is not to popularise an already widely-played board game, but to connect people, enhance cross-demographic community links, and provide an enjoyable experience – among other valuable outcomes. In a 2012 European Parliament declaration, the unique value of chess was highlighted for its wide social, health and educational value, from improving social integration and reducing discrimination to tackling addiction and enhancing memory.
Participants include people with mental health issues, Ukrainian refugees and other foreigners with no local social connections, older people suffering from loneliness, and younger people seeking to improve their confidence and self-esteem. One recent participant reported in the popular WhatsApp group, “these [meetups] have really helped my mental health, just seeing people and speaking to them in person”. The number of participants at each session has risen significantly, from an initial 3-10 in early 2022 to a typical 15-30 and more in recent months. In August 2022, Chess Scotland highlighted the “lively local chess scene emerging in Queens Park” .
Both groups now wish to improve capacity and outreach work to ensure more people can be involved, by sharing a £1k grant to invest in equipment and materials, digital information provision and public events. Currently players are often asked to bring their own sets, resulting in shortages, and we wish to develop and promote a new website, and participate in local festivals and wider partnership activities in 2022/23 and beyond.
Funding Themes Covered
Improving Mental Health
Supporting Young People (up to 21)
Supporting Older People (over 60s)
Govanhill residents can visit www.govanhill.info for information on how to vote for our proposed project before the deadline of noon on Wed 5 October.