Blantyre Miners Community Resource Centre
In common with most coalfield areas, a Miners’ Welfare Institute was established in Blantyre in 1928 to meet the needs of the miners, their dependants and the wider community. As the mine closure programme accelerated across Scotland in the 1980’s , the Miners Welfare took on a new role – supporting unemployed miners and their families, and the local community through hard times.
Blantyre Miners Charitable Society is a community organisation. It was established by volunteers from the local communities and continues to be managed by local volunteers.
The trustees recognise that engaging communities is key to their success and they have sought to engage local people in the development and running of their new facility.
Blantyre Miners Community Resource Centre was opened to the public on the 23rd August 2008. The centre is a multi purpose building where local people can access a wide range of services and activities that include:
• Large Multi-purpose hall (299 sq m, with retractable seating for *** and digital media system ) which can be subdivided in a 60/40 split to provide 2 smaller rooms,
• Large Gym (184 sq m) for use by Blantyre Miners Amateur Boxing Club and fitness classes and 2 Dressing/Shower Rooms.
• 3 Training Rooms – 2 of which are leased by Motherwell College for IT and Hairdressing
• 3 Business Units – all let on long term leases.
• Exhibition and Information Area (to include a heritage exhibition)
Income generated from lets/leases and additional Big Lottery funding allows for a staff team of 5 – A Centre Manager, 3 Facilities Assistants and a cleaner.
The centre has very quickly become a real success with over 1,000 people making use of the various activities/opportunities and services each week.
Engaging with the community continues to be a key priority for the staff and trustees and has gone way beyond the initial consultation at the design stage. The community continue to be involved in a number of ways –
• Managing the centre – the trustees have established a new management group with representation from the Council (local elected members) the local Regeneration Partnership, and Motherwell College. They are currently recruiting community members.
• Delivering services/projects – volunteers are engaged in delivering projects e.g. the Heritage project has been driven by 4 local amateur historians and will when complete in 2010 provide both and internal and outreach exhibition celebrating Blantyre’s rich heritage. The community cinema, due to open early 2010 will also be supported by local film enthusiasts, in particular in connection to a Film Festival planned for 2011
• Ongoing consultation to gain vital feedback on services used and to help identify new development opportunities.
• Informing about the various opportunities and services available to those who simply want to use the centre.
In its first year the centre has made great efforts to engage local people in a wide variety of activities/ opportunities and services that could help to tackle poverty and multiple deprivation in Blantyre –
• Employment support and guidance – Jobcentre Plus Job Point, in partnership with SDS, Forward Training, Bambury Centre and RTWS we deliver an employment course called Positive Moves.
• Vocational training to help upskill people – IT, Hairdressing, beauty therapy.
• Exercise classes for children to help tackle obesity and poor health.
• Breast feeding support groups, Taekwondo, Nanbudo, Boxing, Dance Classes, Line Dancing etc.
• Future Job Fund opportunities for local people.
• Blantyre Community Cinema, coming Easter 2010.
The Trustees vision is to be self sustainable – to earn enough from lets and leases and earned income to cover the running costs. To help it get to this position, the Big Lottery has provided a funding package for the first three years of operation to help offset costs whilst the centre establishes itself fully in the community.
In the meantime, the staff and trustees are developing the community cinema and corporate and wedding/function packages which will increase the income earned from the centre.
Sustaining a community facility, particularly in the difficult financial climate we are now in is going to be tough but the Blantyre Miners Charitable Society have shown that they are up for the challenge. They have survived many hard times since they came into being in 1928 and now have a beautiful new centre to nurture and develop for the generations ahead.
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