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Doors open on new look community building

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By Euan Maxwell
Dumfries and West
Doors open on new look community building
WELCOME BACK . . . family support worker Maureen Armstrong, service manager Amanda McAllister and volunteer Stacey Murphie on Tuesday when the centre was reopened to the public

A CHILD and family support charity has celebrated expanding its operation locally.

This week Aberlour Dumfries and Galloway reopened the doors to the newly-refurbished North West Resource Centre in Dumfries.

The organisation has occupied part of the Lincluden premises since the end of 2019 and has now taken on running the whole building after intervening in a council plan to shut it down.

And after having the community asset transferred in December, staff and volunteers set about redecorating the premises and preparing it for wider community use.

Furthermore, in the long-term it’s hoped that the building will be owned and run by local residents.

Amanda McAllister, service manager for Aberlour Dumfries and Galloway, said: “We’re taking this on in the hope we can prepare the community to run it and manage it over time. We’ve done up the whole building and when the community are ready to take it on we’ll leave everything we’ve put into it and we’ll stay in the part we’re in and pay rent for the space that we’ve got. So we’re setting them up for it to work.

“Between now and then we need to get people in the community to want to be involved, they need to be part of the management committee, they need to give up their time and take on a bit of responsibility and that’s part in parcel of the two paid roles that we’ve currently got – it’s a two year funded post to work with the community to try and get them to where they need to be.”

Discussing the services provided by Aberlour in Dumfries and across the region, Amanda added: “Aberlour has been running for over 135 years and they’ve been in Dumfries and Galloway for about 25 years and I’ve worked with Aberlour for 12 years.

“The services we manage are the Intensive Family Support Service, which works with children and young people whose parents or carers have had a substance misuse issue; we’ve got the Families2Gether service which is a prison-based service supporting people on release from prison who are going to integrate back into their families; we have the Smarter2Gether service for kids at risk of not attending school or have issues with school, and we have Communities2Gether, which is in this building.

“Our families were sometimes worried going into groups so it means we can hold groups in the building and the community can come in, but our families are in a safe space so that they’re integrating with the wider community and hopefully then integrating further out into the community.

“For us that’s what it’s about but we’ve also put in community washing machines, we’ve got the first community fridge in Dumfries and Galloway, the community library, clothing bank – so we’ve got lots and lots of things going on.”

Reflecting on working through the pandemic, when contact between staff, volunteers and service users has been significantly restricted, she said: “The interaction with our families has stayed consistent, we’ve had lots and lots of garden visits and what we did do is started helping partner agencies.

“We delivered just under 10,000 meals for Grub Club at Lochside and we provided and delivered in partnership with the Townhead and the Jolly Harvester delivering nearly 17,000 meals for the elderly – plus our day job.”

Amanda added that her and the rest of the Aberlour team’s goal for the coming months is to “get the community involved”.

She said: “When we had the first lockdown, engagement all across the country was amazing and we’ve had 25 people come forward to volunteer from the first lockdown and they’re still all actively engaged. It’s now all about keeping that engagement going, getting them to bring people into the building here delivering groups and things they might want to do.

“We’ve also got a building in Stranraer that we opened up a couple of weeks ago and we’re in discussions about what we’ll do with our building in Annan as well so we don’t just want it here, we feel that if you’re in an Aberlour building that you should get consistency.”

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