Church has faith in its makeover

Maya Conway, Mary Kernohan, John Conwa and, Caitlin Conway seem happy with the church plans. Picture: Scott Taylor
Maya Conway, Mary Kernohan, John Conwa and, Caitlin Conway seem happy with the church plans. Picture: Scott Taylor
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A CITY church is being given a major overhaul to provide a vibrant community space to everyone from youth groups and church goers to recovering addicts.

St Martin’s Community Resource Centre, off Dalry Road, is undergoing a 21st century makeover.

The B-listed building originally served as a Baptist church before an Episcopal congregation bought it in the 1980s. As well as continuing its services, the building has opened its doors to community groups in recent years. But with only two toilets in the basement, poor baby-changing facilities, and an outdated downstairs galley kitchen, work was desperately needed.

To fulfil a vision of a community hub which will bring all walks of life together, £300,000 has been ploughed into an upgrade project.

The first phase, led by architects Lee Boyd and funded through a variety of events and grants, is expected to be complete in June, when it will re-open.

However the group is keen to raise a further £185,000 to fund additional upgrades.

The centre’s large general purpose hall, smaller community space, meeting rooms and offices will be available for local groups – including the St Martin’s congregation – to rent.

A more prominent entrance to the building is also being created for easier access off Dalry Road.

Before the improvement works began, around 350 people used the building every week, but it is hoped that the number will double once the project is completed.

Members of the resource centre committee and other local groups hope the initiative will help pull the Gorgie/Dalry community together, and support people who are struggling with issues such as addiction or isolation.

Mary Kernohan, of the resource centre, said: “Gorgie Dalry is not as socially deprived as some parts of Edinburgh are, but it is a community of inequality.

“We have a higher than average number of mental health issues and a lot of loneliness among older people. There are also addiction issues, and various groups are working to tackle them.

“There are also groups that offer services for teenagers, such as homework and holiday clubs, and a drama group.”

She added: “Every good community has a school and a village hall. This is more than a village hall.”

John Conway, chairman of the resource centre, said: “Our hope is to enable and to promote a wider range of activities for people of all ages and backgrounds, and develop our potential as a place where people can participate, make friends, enjoy opportunities to lead healthier lives – physically, mentally and emotionally – and be helped to address issues such as depression or isolation.

“The St Martin’s Community Resource Centre seeks to address the physical, emotional and intellectual needs of all in the community, regardless of age, gender, background and employs a community development approach.”