Poverty-hit residents in north Edinburgh suburb to take the lead on plans to help area

A PIONEERING scheme will see residents of a poverty-hit suburb in north Edinburgh get their say on plans to help the area.

Wednesday, 10th July 2019, 8:30 am
The charity Fresh Start is seeking to give power to the people in key deprived areas including Pilton, Muirhouse and Granton who are being asked for their help to set up a local community Hub.

The charity Fresh Start is seeking to give power to the people in key deprived areas including Pilton, Muirhouse and Granton who are being asked for their help to set up a local community Hub.

It aims to help former homeless people settle in their new tenancies and local communities by offering a variety of support networks and services.

Their warehouse has been based in north Edinburgh for 20 years and they now have the opportunity to take over the lease for the rundown pair of adjacent units to create a community hub and full-time thrift shop.

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Fresh Start will hold a surveying event on Thursday – from 4-7pm at North Edinburgh Arts centre – and locals are invited to attend to take part in short surveys detailing what they would like to see the Hub offer the community. The event will also see kids’ entertainment, music, face painting and free food available to all.

Carrie-Ann Scougall, Fresh Start business manager, said: “The event tomorrow is taking place to gauge local residents’ thoughts on the new community hub we are looking to create in North Edinburgh. Tomorrow’s event hopes to raise awareness of the hub project but also give people who will be accessing the services on offer a chance to tell us what they would like to see and what they feel will benefit themselves and their community.”

Fresh Start identified the need for support networks to help service users in north Edinburgh to settle in their new tenancy as well as in their local community.

They made note of the advantages that would come from service users being able to get to know local people, to develop skills and be able to access services and opportunities in a neighbourhood location that was accessible inside and outside of working hours. The charity has made clear that the space will be as much the local community’s as their service users’.

Theresa Allison, general manager for north Edinburgh child care centre, said: “I grew up myself in working class communities and it is refreshing to see third sector agencies approach the community before deciding what the hub will function as.

“Members of the local community deserve to be in control of their own destiny.”

Fresh Start’s vision for the project is extremely ambitious, as it aims to take over the thrift shop and turn it into a fully functioning, five-day-a-week shop. This would also mean that it could create more volunteering opportunities and paid placements for trainees and local people.

The charity also hopes to offer spaces to other community groups so that they can deliver services such as income maximisation workshops or cooking classes.

Tam MaCauley, who has used all of the available services, said: “Fresh Start is an absolute game changer for me, it has taken me out of social isolation and helped me build up my confidence, skills and a portfolio of experience.

“Fresh Start has given me the self-belief, self-awareness and self-esteem to carry on and I can honestly say it has saved my life.”