An Adventist church planted in one of the most socially deprived communities in Scotland has been seeking premises from which it can be a center of influence. While previous attempts to purchase a property have failed, a recent success will now put Paisley Seventh-day Adventist Church Centre at the 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, a charity for the elderly, operates twelve county-wide clubs offering healthy meals, mental and physical exercise and a befriending service. Last year, while still wishing to rent the Centre 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 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. It is surrounded by a housing estate scheduled for a five-year regeneration program and a 150-house development. The Centre includes a reception area, 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 during which the lease was publically advertised, last month the keys were handed over by Roar’s Managing Director, Nicola Hanssen, to Paisley’s Pastor, Claudiu Popescue.
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 wellbeing of the whole of our community.”
Pastor Popescue noted that “The 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.”
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”