Govanhill Baths Community Trust is a grassroots activist-based organisation in the heart of Govanhill delivering wide ranging health, wellbeing, arts, environmental and heritage projects. Their aim is to reopen the Baths as a Wellbeing Centre, contributing to the regeneration of the area and meeting the needs and aspirations of our community.
Following a vibrant community campaign to save the baths (which resulted in the longest continuous occupation of a public building in UK history at 141 days), the Trust was formed in 2004, ensuring the future of the last surviving Edwardian public bathhouse in Glasgow. As one of Scotland’s most ethnically, culturally and religiously diverse communities, as well as one of its most deprived, the Trust’s mission is to support their community, returning the Baths to their original function and sitting at the heart of community life.
For nearly two decades the Baths has provided a varied programme of arts, wellbeing and community events, as well as being a much-used venue for voluntary, statutory and community groups for the delivery of services. An enormous range of programmes are run, such as the award-winning ‘Rags To Riches’, an upcycling social enterprise based on a circular economy model that uses waste to promote environmental sustainability, community engagement and education. The Govanhill Youth Club and the Trust Archives project, has made accessible a collection of materials reflecting the varied activities that have taken place in the Baths over the past 100 years.
Refurbishment of the building began in 2021, on the 20th anniversary of the occupation of the building by local people. The refurbishment, proposed in three phases, and costing £9m, will bring the Ladies’ pool, Learners’ pool, Turkish Suite and Sauna into service as well as providing a gym, community kitchen/cafe and multi-purpose community spaces.
The project was funded via a wide range of organisations, including the largest grant to date from the Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF). Additional funding of over £280,000 has also been secured by issuing community shares, many share holders being people in the local community interested in the progress of Govanhill Baths and keen to support the work.
Throughout the refurbishment, Govanhill Baths is maintaining a diverse programme of arts and wellbeing activities in the community, developing an outreach programme to keep people informed about the redevelopment and putting systems in place for when the building reopens. During refurbishment, activities that previously took place at the Baths have relocated to various venues across the area. It is hoped the building can reopen in spring 2022 – the 21st anniversary of the protest.
“Our aspiration is to get this building back into operation and to serve the community with a well-being centre that will bring a wide range of benefits – all run by the community for the community.”Fatima Uygun, Trust Manager
The Trust recognise that reopening Govanhill Baths will be a vital step in regenerating Govanhill. Having engaged and consulted with thousands of people in the local community, the Trust are keen to fulfil the community’s wishes: to feel connected to a shared local heritage and sense of belonging, to access wellbeing, exercise and community activities, to learn new skills, and to care for the environment.