PAISLEY'S HEALTHY PARTNERSHIP
5th January 2018
Disappointment at Paisley's recent failed bid for City of Culture was quickly followed by another bid that has put Paisley church centre and front of the local community. Over the past two years the church has pursued opportunities to, successively, convert two of the town's historic buildings into a Healthy Living Centre of Influence. Although widespread publicity, and a successful major grant application, made key decision-makers and influencers aware of the Adventist Church – some for the first time – it appears that God had another plan.
Roar ‒ Connections for Life, an older adult's charity, operates twelve countywide clubs offering healthy meals, mental and physical exercise and a befriending service. Last year, whilst still wishing to rent the centre for its weekday daily activities, it decided to give up its lease of the Paisley West End Community Centre and move its head office from there to larger premises.
The council-owned building is close to the town centre, in an area recorded as among the lowest 5% in Scotland's Deprivation Index, and surrounded by a housing estate scheduled for a five-year regeneration programme and a 150-house development. The centre includes a reception, an 80-seater hall, a large meeting room, an office and a commercial grade kitchen.
Spurred on by the continued formal support of Renfrewshire Council, Renfrewshire Health & Social Care Partnership, three Housing Associations, and the Community Council, the Church applied for a lease on a repair and maintenance basis with a peppercorn rent – effectively rent free. After a nervous wait, whilst the lease was publicly advertised, last month the keys were handed over by Roar's Managing Director, Nicola Hanssen, to Paisley's pastor, Claudiu Popescu.
Referring to Roar's continued use of the centre, Ms Hanssen said, "We are committed to working in partnership with those who share similar aims, ideals and values. Together we can make a big impact on the health and well-being of the whole of our community." Pastor Popescu shared these sentiments. He said, "The Adventist Church has a long history of health reform and we look forward to getting to know our neighbours and working with partners to meet local needs."
This is the culmination of a project launched in 2011 by Glasgow and Clyde's Director of Public Health and led by Paisley West & Central Community Council. Titled WISH – West End Is Safer and Healthier, and funded by Renfrewshire Alcohol & Drugs Partnership, subsequent public consultation produced several recommendations ‒ including a wish to see empty premises brought into use for community activities and the provision of an alcohol-free venue. John Wilby, Paisley West & Central Community Council Chair, and the centre's new manager, said, "This is an exciting opportunity that sees those early wishes brought to fruition. Partner activities will play a very important role in the West End's future regeneration."