Youth organisation Dumfries YMCA is settling into its new base at the former Lochside Primary.
The ex-school will now provide a full-time community, youth, family, activity and resources centre in North West Dumfries, offering a wide range of services that support children, young people, families and older people in the area.
Dumfries YMCA will be developing the facility into a multi-purpose hub for early learning and childcare services, youth services, community, family and business rooms and training kitchen for families and individuals.
The heart of the centre will be a large community café, catering for up to 14 hours per day during the week providing high-quality food and a meeting place for local people and agencies. It will also provide employment and certificated youth training opportunities.
Councillors previously agreed that the former Lochside Primary should be transferred to the YMCA for the sum of £1. The ‘Licence to Occupy’ was issued by the council to the YMCA on February 1 to enable refurbishment works to begin.
Chairman of Dumfries YMCA Tom Turner said: “It is fantastic that we have secured the community asset transfer of the former school to enable the YMCA to develop its ongoing youth work in the area and provide a base for a number of other community organisations working in the area.
“The YMCA has been delivering youth work in the area for some years now and has been engaging with the community and the council for the last 18 months on our ideas for the former school. The hard work starts now to develop the youth work services and to securing the necessary funding to achieve the ideas set out in the business plan.”
Chairman of the Communities committee, Andy Ferguson, said the response from communities taking on the running of community centres and facilities in the last couple of years had been very positive and he was pleased that another facility in his own ward was now benefitting.
“I’m sure that the YMCA will be able to develop this facility into something that the organisation and the community can be proud of,” he added.
Local ward councillor, David McKie, said officers were working closely with local groups to establish effective management teams so that they were able to successfully manage assets and ensure the future sustainability and viability of the buildings in their communities.
The YMCA was a great example with a sense of ownership and tremendous pride in being able to provide a building that the whole community would be able access and ensure maximum usage.
“I am pleased that a thorough consultation was done with the user groups in the school and in the community before the application was made to the council,” he said. “I look forward to seeing how they transform the use of the school over the forthcoming months.”
Ronnie Nicholson, fellow local ward councillor, was one of the first pupils to attend Lochside Primary when it opened so it was important to him to make sure that the building remained in the heart of the community.
“I made a lot of happy memories here and I am confident that others will be able to do the same when they use the transformed facility,” he said. “It is great that the YMCA will be providing local employment, a place for local people to meet and somewhere to come and learn new skills.”
Speaking at the handover, one of the young people said “I can’t believe we will have our very own youth centre. My friends and I have enjoyed many of the youth work activities provided by the YMCA in the park and school but to have our own centre is beyond words.”