Edinburgh's Drylaw neighbourhood centre needs emergency funding to keep doors open

A well-established community centre could be forced to close within weeks unless it secures emergency funding.

By Ian Swanson
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 11:31 am

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

Drylaw Neighbourhood Centre says its future is at risk after its funding from a charitable trust has run out. It hopes the city council will step in and agree to provide up to £50,000 to keep it going for the next six months.

Motions proposing emergency support for the centre have been lodged by Labour, the SNP and Lib Dems to next week’s full council meeting.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The centre is a lynchpin for the community, catering for everyone from primary pupils to pensioners. It runs after-school activities three days a week, an after-hours cooking club, history group, a culture group which goes on museum trips, a keep fit club and more.

Alex Dale, chair of the centre's management committee, said: "The centre has been in this area for 27 years. But we could close come the end of July or beginning of August.

"Years ago we used to get funding directly from the council but as the years have gone on, they changed that and everyone had to apply for money and the butter got quite thin on top of the toast as they tried to spread it about."

In 2016 the centre was unsuccessful in its funding bid to the council, but did get some support to tide them over and for the past four years it has been funded by the Robertson Trust.

Drylaw Neighbourhood Centre faces possible closure unless it can secure emergency funding. Picture: Greg Macvean.

But Mr Dale saysthat money has now run out. "It's quite hard for community centres like ours. We can get funding for small projects but funding to pay staff and keep the centre physically open is where the problem is. When we go to major funders they say they believe local authorities should fund community centres for paying staff and the basic bills."

SNP councillor for Inverleith and Drylaw resident Vicky Nicolson said the centre provided crucial services like the only local after-school clubs for primary children, a food-growing space for local people and a disability day service.

She said: “The neighbourhood centre has been at the heart of the community in Drylaw for 25 years. It would be a hammer blow to the area to lose it now. Local people are really passionate about it. We don't have a lot of resources in Drylaw. Without bridging money from the council, the centre could have to close its doors forever."

Lib Dem Inverleith councillor Hal Osler said: "We cannot afford to lose a centre like this at a time like this. If we as a council cannot help in a situation like this, then what are we doing? This is place of safety and it proEdinburgh Trams staff could strike over festival in pay rowvides local facilities or individuals. If that goes, where are people going to go?"

Management committee chair Alex Dale says community centres struggle for funding. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.

Lothian Labour MSP Foysol Choudhury said he met the management committee. “They put a very strong case for the council to provide emergency funding until they can get a business plan and make it sutsainable in the long term.”

Council leader Cammy Day said he had spoken to all the local councillors. “We’re all on the same page, that we need to do something to help the project survive into a new arrangement. The administration has put forward a motion to ask officers to work with them to help them transition and diversify into a new model of running and we'll support them with up to £50,000 as one-off payment.”

Read More

Read More
Edinburgh Trams staff could strike over festival in pay row