For generations community centres have been at the heart of their neighbourhoods providing a place to meet or make friends, attend clubs or fitness classes and access learning opportunities.
Now more than ever people are looking to their community for support and our community centres have gone above and beyond to help those most in need.
These are just a few examples of how community centres are helping local people:
Although Airyhall Community Centre is closed to the public, volunteers still wanted to help where they could.
They’ve been keeping busy by donating food to Aberdeen Cyrenians to allow them to cook and distribute hot meals to those who need them. They have also been supporting local single parent families by providing food parcels when they need them.
The Community Centre has made generous donations of £2000 to three Hubs across Aberdeen - Manor Park School Fund, Clashieburn School Fund and Tilly Hub. These donations will help vulnerable children living in Aberdeen.
Volunteers have also shown their support to NHS staff by delivering food parcels and sending ‘goodies’ to staff at Northcote Lodge Care Home to help boost morale.
Danestone Community Centre are continuing to run a food surplus service three days a week in partnership with Marks and Spencer Bridge of Don and Aldi Beach Boulevard. Since lockdown the service had been crucial with more than 250 people using the service each week, including local keyworkers.
In addition to food, the Centre have been distributing flowers and plants to help keep spirits high and they’ve not forgotten their younger residents either – Aldi donated more than 40 Easter eggs that were handed out over the Easter weekend.
The Centre also runs a ‘Lockdown Library’ with over 300 adult and children's books available. The service can be accessed every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11am to 2.30pm.
Even though it is currently closed, volunteers at Froghall Community Centre are continuing to run their food distribution service with donations of surplus food from Marks and Spencer Bridge of Don, Aldi Beach Boulevard, Aldi Cornhill, Lidl Hutcheon Street, Marks and Spencer Stoneywood (all via Neighbourly Scheme) and also Asda Beach Boulevard (via Fareshare). Every week this much needed service provides food parcels to twenty families and eighteen residents who are self- isolating or shielding in Froghall and Sunnybank.
Linda Presslie and Dawn Presslie-Bell, committee members of Froghall Community Centre, deliver the food parcels along with flowers, plants and chocolates.
Linda said “In addition to our food parcels, we were lucky to get a whole heap of comics from Lidl and a donation of Easter eggs from Aldi. We certainly put a smile on the children’s faces when we handed them out.
We would also like to say a big THANK YOU to the volunteers from St Machar Rotary Group and all the stores who supply us with donations – together we really are making a difference.”
Since the start of the lockdown staff and volunteers at Inchgarth Community Centre have been working 12 hours a day to provide a wide range of support services to 15,000 households in Garthdee, Kincorth, Torry, Ferryhill, Riverside, Leggart, Mannofield, Broomhill, Airyhall, Hoburn and Seafield.
Services that the centre are providing include:
• Collecting medications;
• Delivering food parcels inc. pet food, toiletries, nappies and cleaning products;
• Issuing grants for gas and electric bills; and
• Providing support and advice.
They are also phoning those they know are on their own, delivering hot meals and offering to walk dogs.
Staff and volunteers can only provide these services thanks to several successful funding bids.
Paul O’Conner, chairman of the Inchgarth Community Centre said: “The stories of hardship, both socially and financially, have been difficult to hear but the amount of good will and kindness we have also witnessed is heartening. It has brought communities together in ways that will see long lasting benefits once all of this has passed.
“Inchgarth volunteers and staff teams are privileged to be leading the south of the city's support efforts, and we thank the 120 partner organisations and professionals who have kindly assisted our efforts when asked.”
Mastrick Community Centre has been supplying food parcels every Tuesday since lockdown helping more than 15 families/individuals a week.
They have also been calling vulnerable people, staff and volunteers making sure they have enough supplies or just cheering them up with a chat.
Vickie Wood, chairperson of the community centre said: “We’ve had many tears and smiles when delivering parcels, for some, laughter has been the best way to ease the embarrassment they have felt. However, we’re all in this together and everyone needs a helping hand sometimes so we all just do what we can.
We’d like to thank Morrisons on King Street and Marks and Spencer in Westhill who have given us donations to help boost our parcels. Morrisons were even kind enough to give us Easter eggs so we could deliver a wee surprise to the kids.”
Powis Community Centre have been working hard during the lockdown period to distribute food and emergency food parcels to residents who are either shielding or self-isolating in the local area. Bags of produce from the *Fareshare scheme are given out along with homemade soup with the aim of keeping vulnerable residents safe at home.
In addition to food parcels, volunteers have been giving out craft packs to families with young children to try to keep them occupied and encouraged whilst staying indoors. The kids in Powis had even more reason to smile when the Easter bunny paid them a visit with lots of Easter egg donations.
If there is any left-over Fareshare produce it is made available for others living in the community to collect from the front door of Powis Community Centre on a weekday lunchtime and a Friday evening.
Fiona Lindsay, vice-chair of the community centre said: “the feedback from the community has been amazing and the service is very much appreciated and seems to be giving a little joy to those who otherwise would have been finding this time of rapid change extremely challenging.”
*Fareshare collections come from a variety of shops including Asda, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and C-Fine.