'Our Edinburgh scheme has a reputation for being tough - but it's misunderstood'

Niddrie holds a reputation as one of Edinburgh’s toughest schemes - yet has benefitted from investment in recent years.

The Scottish Index of Multimple Deprivation (SIMD) showed in 2020 that the Niddrie area was among the most deprived five per cent in Scotland. Even today, children born in Niddrie Mains can expect to live on average 21.4 years less than children born in New Town West.

But what do real Niddrie residents say about the neighbourhood? Edinburgh Live spoke to residents on Niddrie Mains Road to take the pulse of the area.

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Niddrie has benefitted from Edinburgh Council investment in the Craigmillar area, seeing housing refurbishment and plans to develop Niddrie Mains Road into a “vibrant town centre.”

Sharon, 61, a Niddrie resident, said: “The community here is good. People know everybody.”

Sharon lauded the housing refurbishments, which she said gave people newer, safer homes and access to gardens.

“It’s better than it’s ever been. The new houses have made a massive difference.”

Another resident – who worked at the local British Heart Foundation – felt that Niddrie was misunderstood, saying: “It’s not as bad as people make it out to be. It’s a real community. They all know each other, they all support each other.”

She continued: “I moved away from the area and came back, so that says something. I wouldn’t have come back if I thought it was that bad. I work here and love it.

The resident also said that the area is more multicultural than in recent decades, which she feels “strengthens” the area.

However, locals reported the neighbourhood still sees its fair share of problems. Several felt the area would benefit from more activities for young people.

One local said: “They could do a lot more for the kids. The children just don’t have a lot to do, and they get really bored. They end up being rude and annoying to people.

“They ride around masked up on bikes , or they come into the shops and cause absolute havoc. If you’re in here during the week when the schools are in, they have security guards in the big stores because the kids cause that many problems.”

Derek, who was born in Niddrie, lamented the lack of community spaces for children.

He said: “There’s not enough facilities for the bairns. The play schemes are all gone. There’s a football pitch now, but that’s about it.”

Derek has a granddaughter who lives in Castlebrae and often visits him in Niddrie - and he has no worries when the youngster comes to stay.

He stated: “What I like about Niddrie is that it's a safe place. I’ve always felt safe. When you leave folk to live their life, trouble won’t come to you.

However, Derek acknowledged that growing up in Niddrie makes locals “quite street savvy”.

He continued: “The old saying is: you can take the boy out of Niddrie but you can’t take the Niddrie out of the boy.”

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