A £500,000 new community hub in one of Scotland’s most deprived areas is a step closer to creation.
Kirkcaldy YMCA is to take over the former Gallatown Park Bowling Club in Kirkcaldy, where it intends to refurbish existing facilities and build a new centre.
Fife Council approved a community asset transfer of the premises that will see it sell the site to the group for £1,000, considerably lower than its market value.
Kirkcaldy YMCA hopes building work will begin early next year on the Gallatown Community Centre, allowing it to provide even more much-needed services.
The Gallatown area of the town is among the top 2% of deprived areas of Scotland, with 38.9% of its children living in poverty.
Kirkcaldy YMCA general secretary Liz Easton said: “We are doing the right thing in the right place for the right people at the right time.”
The organisation, which also operates from Valley Gardens and Dysart, already provides services from the leased bowling club and a former restaurant in the Gallatown.
However, Liz said neither were fit-for-purpose or fully accessible, with the former suffering from damp.
The new and refurbished premises will allow it to add to the projects it already runs for children and adults, including feeding families during school holidays, a mental health café, bike scheme and cooking classes.
It intends to make use of the green space at the bowling club by offering activities such as a messy children’s club and den building and by building a cycle track.
Facilities will also be available for hire for functions and weddings, for example, to generate income.
Liz said: “This is about having a community facility with a green space attached to it.
“We all know having access to the outdoors supports improvement of physical and mental wellbeing and we will be trying to bring the outside in.
“We will be offering training and employment at facilities which are accessible to all, we will be at the heart of the community, in Gallatown Park, and we hope there will be a huge benefit from that.”
Initially a £68,000 upgrade of the existing building will be conducted before work on the £500,000 new build begins, which could be complete by the end of 2019.
It is hoped a grant of £230,000 from the Big Lottery and funding from other sources will be approved shortly.
A report to the council’s assets, property and facilities committee which approved the transfer of the bowling club said that the Gallatown faced significant issues including mental health issues, substance misuse, unemployment and low attainment.
It said: “The asset which will be acquired will be fully refurbished and accessible to the community and projects delivered will provide learning opportunities for children and adults, offering green spaces and employment and volunteering opportunities.”
Committee member and Kirkcaldy Central councillor Alistair Cameron said Kirkcaldy YMCA had had a great influence on the lives of many of the town’s youngsters.