A community project to turn Johnstone Police Station into a local health hub has taken a significant step forward.
Active Communities has received £10,000 from Renfrewshire Council’s Community Empowerment Fund towards its plans to take over ownership of the former police station.
It is one of three projects to receive support from the first round of applications for the newly established fund open to all community groups who want to take over ownership and running of a building or piece or land in their local area.
Starting out 15 years ago as a Paisley walking and jogging group, Active Communities now delivers physical activity and community sport, health and wellbeing classes to more than 700 people each week right across Renfrewshire, with a local school programme and a youth volunteering initiative.
Their innovative idea to convert the station building into a community led health and wellbeing centre has received funds for a feasibility study and to further develop the business case.
Plans for the facility also include providing space for women’s initiative Kairos, who provide support to vulnerable women facing social barriers and a men’s shed for men to make social connections and build friendships.
The station kitchen could be adapted to give local people training in cookery and healthy eating and there are also plans to provide meeting rooms for other community groups.
“The more we have grown and the greater the demand, we were keen to have a central hub so we can deliver lots more activities,” said Susan McDonald, Active Communities Manager.
“Downstairs would be space for our classes and upstairs would be office space for ourselves and for other community organisations who are looking to grow. There’s been great support from the Johnstone community and it is really exciting that we’re one step closer.
“Our classes and activities are about having fun and helping to tackle loneliness and isolation. We aim to encourage people who wouldn’t see themselves as sporty. We will have space for a drop in where people can join us for a cuppa, a chat and find out what is available.”
The group are also in discussions with Police Scotland over the transfer of the station.
Inspector Cassie Glass, Johnstone, Renfrew and the Villages Community Policing Team, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the local community in terms of health and wellbeing and very appropriate use of our former Police Station. We wish them every success.”
Councillors on Renfrewshire’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board also approved £10,000 for Paisley Community Trust as they develop the business case to turn the old Arnott’s site into a cinema, arts venue and theatre.
And West End Growing Grounds Association received £20,000 to help them relocate to Underwood Road.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “We have so many innovative and creative people in our communities and these projects, from health hubs to local growing grounds, exemplify this.
“Everyone in Renfrewshire wants their own town or village to thrive and we believe that local communities are key to their success. That’s why this fund has been created, to empower all community groups – whether firmly established or just starting out – to come forward with their ideas and we will do all we can to help them along the way. It’s so important to me that we can reach as diverse a range of community members as possible.
“We are also establishing new funds for our villages and to develop Renfrewshire’s green spaces and improving local decision making as part of our commitment to give communities greater say and control than ever before.”
The next deadline for Community Empowerment Fund applications is Friday 14 September. To find out more, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/