North East Learning Journey – Health and Wellbeing
Community Health in Partnership Officer Jane Mitchell recently attended an event organised by Development Trusts Association Scotland which showcased two community-led regeneration projects in Maud and Strichen.
Maud Village Trust – www.maudvillagetrust.org purchased the village’s old cattle mart from private owners following the closure of the mart in 2001.
Back in the day Maud played a major part in the area’s commercial success, with a major railway junction and many varied businesses providing services to the farming communities and local mart, which hosted the largest one-day fat stock market in the whole of Britain. It was a thriving and prosperous village. Over the years the railway closed, businesses went into decline; and when the mart closed in 2001 the remaining supporting businesses also closed their doors. For local people there was a lack of employment opportunities, and increased travelling was required to access local services. There was no incentive for new people to move to Maud, and the heart had gone out of the village.
In response to this Maud Village Trust (a recognised Scottish charity) was formed in 2002 with the aim of purchasing and developing the old mart site for the benefit of the Maud and District Community. Maud Village Trust Mission Statement –
“Our mission is simply to create a sustainable community resource facility that supersedes the Old Mart as the new heart of the village. A resource that is able to facilitate a multi-agency support network for a range of activities that are of direct benefit to the health and wellbeing of our local community and economy.”
The objectives of the Maud Village Trust were to:
• Develop a centrepiece for the village with amenity value.
• Generate a sense of community and ownership.
• Encourage social inclusion of all groups in the village and surrounding area.
• To create sustainable and financially viable facilities on the old mart site for the benefit of the local communities and economy.
• To create local employment opportunities.
• To operate as a social enterprise.
Maud Village Trust is made up of 20 local people. They carried out community consultations, supported by Buchan Development Trust, to determine the direction of the
project. The development has then been completed in phases.
Phase 1 - The Gardens
The first phase of development was to create a community garden for all to enjoy. A beautiful focal point has been created by volunteers, where people can sit and
reminisce about what has been before.
Phase 2 – Community Service Centre.
The Community Service Centre provides business and employment opportunities and premises. The café was opened in 2010 and is proving very popular and a great addition to the village.
Phase 3 – The Old Mart Community Resource Centre.
In 2006 the Trust was approached by the NHS who wished to build a Medical Resource Centre in central Buchan. Working in partnership with Scottish Ministers and NHS Grampian the Community Resource Centre was built. As part of the funding agreement the build had to be in the ownership of a community group and NHS Grampian handed it over to Maud Village Trust. MVT, NHS Grampian and Aberdeenshire council continue to work in partnership to ensure everyone’s priorities are met.
The Centre was constructed for the purpose of a Community Resource Centre, designed to facilitate a multi-agency support network for vulnerable people in the
community and to provide a range of activities and services which benefit the overall health and wellbeing of the local community. It is used by health professions from the NHS and Aberdeenshire Council social work and housing services, voluntary sector organisations and community groups.
Services operating from the centre and providing local access to Health and Social Care support are -
- Podiatry Clinic
- Occupational therapy - NHS & Aberdeenshire Council
- Care Management - Aberdeenshire Council
- Mental Health Practitioners - Community nursing team
- Doctor Surgery - Tue & Wed mornings
- Physiotherapy clinic
- Community Nurse - Central Buchan Practice
- Health Visitors
During initial discussions on the facilities that would be provided at the centre, the Maud Village Trust put forward a request for a gym facility for use by the local community. This was agreed and the Centre now houses a gym which provides fitness for everyone.
There are currently over 850 members – ranging from 3 to 80! The Gym employs 4 qualified Fitness Instructors. The gym was designed to help everyone in the community become more active, and so offers a variety of classes including - Exercise Referral Chair-based exercises, Gym Kids, Teen Classes, Circuits, Spin Classes and Insanity classes.
Phase 4 – The Play Areas
The play areas have created a space for the young and young at heart to use outdoor fitness equipment. There is also seating areas, and planting has been started to encourage wildlife such as bees and birds.
Maud Village Trust successfully engaged with the local community, consulting with them about what matters to local people, what would improve the quality of life for residents and contribute to their overall Health and Wellbeing, and created a vibrant and viable community-owned resource. They have collaborated and entered into partnership with public bodies including NHS Grampian and Aberdeenshire Council, providing a platform for an Integrated Health and Social Care service which delivers a range of services that benefit the community. The Old Mart Community Resource Centre facilitates a multi-agency support network for local people, linking provision with need through a variety of activities and services which positively impact on the overall health and wellbeing of the community.
As well as the environmental and economic benefits to the community with their ownership of the old mart site, the Community Resource Centre has become the new centre of the village. There is improved accessibility and provision of community services, and increased social inclusion for groups in the community including Mental Health and Learning Disabilities. By working in partnership with NHS Grampian and Aberdeenshire Council, the community also has a greater opportunity to influence Health and Social Care provision in the area.
The project has not been without it’s challenges, but with time, energy and perseverance the Maud Village Trust has created a well-used and respected community resource.
MAUD VILLAGE TRUST - Created for the community to put the heart back into Maud.
The afternoon took us to Strichen, with transport kindly laid on by Banffshire Partnership’s Dial-a-bus service. Banffshire Partnership is one of the rural partnerships in Aberdeenshire. They are independent, member-led organisations supporting communities in economic and social development, and offer a range of services.
In Strichen we were met at the Town House by Hebbie and Robert from Strichen Community Park group – www.strichenpark.co.uk
We were given a tour of the old building which was built in 1816. The group are in the process of buying the Town House from Aberdeenshire Council through asset transfer. Although the project has been in the pipeline for several years there are no fixed plans for the building as yet, though both Hebbie and Robert are clear that it will be a resource owned by the community, for the community. They are involved in this project after seeing what has been achieved in, and the success of, the Strichen Community Park and Lodge.
The park used to be part of the Hydro estate, which at one time was a private house, and then a hotel. At the outbreak of the Second World War the property was occupied by troops and when the war ended it fell into disrepair. The land was bought and became a Brick works, making cement blocks. When the business closed the area was left as a derelict site. The community council approached the district council and were given a piece of land to create a community park in 1996. Further land that had been earmarked as sites for housing was obtained in 2003/4, bringing the land owned by the community to 38 acres.
The community have been involved throughout the project, and all the work, from raising funds to the draining of the lake and creating and maintaining a network of paths has been carried out by volunteers. Local school children helped plant an orchard, and drystone dyking skills were shared and passed on between volunteers. The park is a wonderful green space where locals and visitors can enjoy the walks around the lake and along the wooded paths, take a seat and enjoy the varied wildlife making their home on the lake and just enjoy the peace and quiet.
Strichen Community Park purchased and refurbished the old lodge house which sits within the park, and opened this a few years ago. They have gone into partnership with a local lady, and the lodge provides employment opportunities to local people, and is a lovely place to meet and have a bite to eat after a walk round the park.
Both Hebbie and Robert acknowledge the hard work and determination of the many volunteers over the years who have made the park a place the community of Strichen can be proud of.
Strichen Town House project is being supported by Buchan Development Partnership – www.bdp.scot BDP is an independent, community-led initiative working with communities across Buchan. It helps groups keep their essential community facilities running and tackle some of the pressing economic, social and environmental issues they face.
Many thanks to everybody involved in the learning journey, for taking the time to organise and bring us all together, and sharing the experiences and learning from both projects.
For further information about the Community Empowerment Act (Scotland) 2015 – Part 5 – Asset Transfer the Scottish Government website has more detailed discussion papers on this section here: http//www.gov.scot/Topics/People/engage/AssetTransfer