If you buy the book, The People’s City, you will not only get a good read, but you will also be contributing to OneCity Trust, Edinburgh’s social inclusion charity.
This is the fourth anthology which still features three of its original authors, Ian Rankin, Irvine Welsh and Alexander McCall Smith, and it is published today.
The stories are all connected to Edinburgh in its various guises, mostly with a historic setting, but the foreword by the Rt Hon Lord Provost, Frank Ross and the no holds barred introduction by eminent author, Irvine Welsh, pull few punches about what living in the capital is like for too many people.
Irvine Welsh believes that many problems stem from the fact that Edinburgh is geared to tourism and “feeding the bottomless trough of neoliberal capitalism”, rather than the people who live here. He writes: “I’m sorry to say not much has changed in our city or in society as a whole. the poorest parts of Edinburgh are still characterised by underemployment, low wages, and insufficient access to essential services, as deprivation thrives exponentially, passed down from generation to generation like a devastating disease.”
The Lord Provost refers to the Edinburgh Poverty Commission which issued its report in 2020 stating that one in five children in the city live in poverty – and that this was increasing not declining.
Food banks report soaring numbers of those who depend upon their services, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only made matters worse for lower income households.
The stories in the book are all individual with one thing in common – they are set in or around Edinburgh.
Ian Rankin penned the Broukit Bairn which, although set in Edinburgh and featuring a convicted criminal, is a departure from his Rebus books.
Nadine Aisha Jassat is a poet, writer and creative practitioner and her contribution is set in Rosebank Cemetery. This was the view from the flat that she and her auntie rented for the weekend before she began her studies at the University of St Andrews, and she relates the ghostly welcome she had to Edinburgh.
Dr Anne Hamilton is an author who concentrates on short works although says she is working on her second novel. Her story features the Botanics and the tree there which features in a complex family tale.
Sara Sheridan takes the reader to Portobello, the land of ice cream, the possibility of an arranged marriage in an Italian ice cream family and love – both lost and won.
Alexander McCall Smith is a name that needs no introduction in Edinburgh and his No 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series has won him much acclaim. His story is set near the University in Sandy Bell’s.
Edinburgh is the world’s first UNESCO city of literature, and to celebrate the city, its literature, and more importantly, its people, Polygon and the OneCity Trust have brought together writers – both established and emerging – to write about the place they call home.
Based around landmarks or significant links to Edinburgh each story transports the reader to a different decade in the city’s recent past. Through these stories each author reflects on the changes, both generational and physical, in the city in which we live.
The OneCity Trust with the help of its partners, Travis Perkins Managed Services, Morrisons Energy Services, CGI IT UK, ENGIE Regeneration Limited, CCG (Scotland) Ltd and City Fibre distributes tens of thousands of pounds to community bodies which try to help people all over the city. The charity aims to combat inequality by helping those organisations which support those who would otherwise be excluded, and raises funds to make grants to community groups and organisations.
In 2021 grants were made to WHALE Arts and St Mary’s Cathedral in Palmerston Place to find a way of setting up outdoor classrooms in the Wester Hailes area. A grant was paid to LOVE Gorgie Farm to hold a festival at the farm, a grant of £2,000 was paid to Edinburgh Zoo for a children’s communications project.
The sum of £8,126 was given to Capital Carers to set up a carers’ respite service and £9,884 was paid to Grassroots Clothing a charity set up to support men who need suitable clothes to wear to a job interview.
In Corstorphine £7,500 was paid to Nourish to Flourish based at Corstorphine Community Centre to run a programme of activities to help people move on from the dependency of food bank support and learn about budgeting, cooking skills and growing foods.
Another grant of £3,000 will help Lochend Football Academy in replacing the 3G pitch which has become increasingly damaged in recent times. These are just some recent examples of the grants which the Trust makes, hoping to make a difference to people’s lives.
You can either buy the book or donate to OneCity Trust here or buy tickets to the Lord Provost’s Burns Supper at Prestonfield (which has been postponed to 4 March 2022). Signed copies of the book will be available from the Lord Provost’s office.