Community hub open for business

Jan Leatham, of BDI, Marion Bolland, volunteer, Dave Thomson, a project development officer, Isla Elliott, volunteer, and Jean Henretty, of BDI,  at the new community hub
Jan Leatham, of BDI, Marion Bolland, volunteer, Dave Thomson, a project development officer, Isla Elliott, volunteer, and Jean Henretty, of BDI, at the new community hub

A long-awaited commmunity hub in Banchory has opened its doors.

Number One Community Matters is based in the former Deeside Piper office in Scott Skinner Square.

The hub, ideally located in the town centre, will be a place for people and groups to meet and help young people who need more training to assist them into the jobs market.

One of the features is a community cafe which will provide hospitality training.

Work has been continuing over the past few weeks to convert the premises and there has already been considerable interest in the new project.

Banchory and District Initiative (BDI) will manage the hub in partnership with a number of other community organisations.

The hub project - first proposed in 2000 - attracted funding from a number of sources including the Garfield Weston Foundation, Awards for All, the MacRobert Trust, Tarland, NHS Grampian and Marr Area Partnership. It also received a grant from RBS Skills and Opportunities.

The new facility has training, information, support services and a social area.

Jan Leatham, of BDI, said: “We would like to find out what kind of classes people want and also have tutors come in and run their own classes.

“The things that people have spoken about so far include genealogy and crafts of all descriptions.

“We will be a facilitating organisation, rather than making all the decisions. The cafe is here to support the community activities rather than the other way round. and is a way of upskilling people.”

There are plans to run a youth cafe for 14-18-year-olds on a Friday evening.

Local councillor Karen Clark praised BDI and its partners for getting the project off the ground.

She said: “I’m really impressed at the potential and possibilities it offers as an inclusive space for people of all ages in the community.

“There are some fantastic opportunities to widen access to adult learners and young people in the new training kitchen which will offer a range of classes from basic food hygiene to hospitality.

“I have no doubt ‘Number One’ will be a great asset to the community.”

Banchory Community Council chair Mary Lennox said the opening of the hub was ”great news”.

She added: “Banchory Community Council would wish to congratulate those involved.

“BDI have worked long and hard to achieve this much-needed local facility and I am sure it will be a very valuable addition to the town.

“It will be a great place for friends or small groups to meet either just for a coffee or for a meeting or to join in an activity.”