Socially deprived community offers Adventists rent-free premises.
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Published on: 01-08-2018
An Adventist church planted in one of the most socially deprived communities in Scotland now has a place to offer a Healthy Living Centre of Influence. Paisley Seventh-day Adventist Church had been seeking facilities from which it could be a center of influence. While previous attempts to purchase a property failed, a recent successful bid will now put the local Adventist church at the forefront of the local community.
Over the past two years, the church 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, it appears now that God had another plan.
Roar-Connections for Life, an older adult’s charity, operates twelve county-wide clubs offering healthy meals, mental and physical exercise, and a befriending service. Last year, while still wishing to rent the center for its regular week-day 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 among the lowest 5 percent in Scotland’s Deprivation Index. It is surrounded by a housing estate scheduled for a five-year regeneration program and a 150-house development. The center includes a reception area, an 80-seat 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 nominal rent – effectively rent free. After a nervous wait during which the lease was publically advertised, the keys were handed over by Roar’s managing director, Nicola Hanssen, to Paisley Seventh-day Adventist Church local pastor Claudiu Popescue last month.
Referring to Roar’s continued use of the center, 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”. Popescue noted that the Seventh-day Adventist Church “has a long history of health reform and we look forward to getting to know our neighbors and working with partners to meet local needs.”
It 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 center’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.”