Having recently remarked on the idea of bingo as being an exemplar of ‘community’, it’s pleasing to see that bingo is back in North Edinburgh, and it’s taking place in a community centre. More poignantly, the setting up of the sessions are part of a funded project aimed at helping communities. So, it would appear that we are not the only ones who believe bingo serves an important function in some communities. They could have chosen to launch a needle work cooperative, but they chose bingo, which we think is great for the community.
Community based initiatives have changed a lot over the last few years, having of late adopted a ‘bottom centred approach’. Historically, intervention was always from the top down, with the ‘well to do’ deciding what would improve the lives of the less fortunate without actually bothering to ask them what they wanted or needed. It was always assumed that the mainly middle class philanthropists knew better than the recipients of their ‘help’.
This all changed due in part to the work of Paulo Freire, a Brazilian who through his observations of the dwellers of the flavelas stated that the less privileged were the only ones who truly knew what their needs were. His work contributed to the western development of what we know come to understand as the community consultation process, which is now the basis for many community projects across the UK.
Now, we are not saying that bingo is the respite of the underprivileged, or that anyone playing in bingo halls is in anyway in ‘need of help’. However there are undeniable socioeconomic differentials between those who play bingo, and those who regularly attend the opera. You don’t need to engage in lengthy and arduous research to ‘see’ this.
So when we see a community being given ‘what it wants’ we applaud the benefactors, who in this case are the CashBack for Communities fund, which takes uses funds recovered from the proceeds of crime and invests them into free activities and programs.
The idea for bingo came from a Muirhouse resident, Jackie Brown, who with the aid of others and a community professional got the ball rolling. North Edinburgh has had its fair share of bingo hall closures (for example West Granton Road Gala Bingo),leaving many residents without the opportunity to play without having to travel far.
Well, for those who’ve been missing out lately, the work of a local lass has brought bingo back to the community of Muirhouse. We wish Jackie and the venture the best of luck for the future. More.