The committee for Ettrick Dochart Community Hall were awarded £11,004.64 by the Falkirk Food Futures fund as administered by Forth Environment Link. The grant was used to bolster a thriving activities schedule including a community café with meal each week, batch-cooking sessions, new equipment and furniture, ingredients, and training to upskill two local volunteers with the skills to move forward in employability.
Residents of Hallglen in Falkirk are lacking in community facilities following the closure of a sports hall, and the reduction in buses to the town centre. Over the last couple of years, Ettrick Dochart Community Hall has become more important than ever, with services including a food pantry with more than 100 members; several social groups providing connection to people of all ages; and Scott’s Room, which is a space dedicated to offering counselling to young people through The Scott Martin Foundation.
Ettrick Dochart Community Hall is run by volunteers, and they knew that with some more funds, they would be able to do even more good. In 2022 the hall’s committee applied to the Falkirk Food Futures fund for a grant to make improvements and put on some more exciting activities.
“Being on the committee gives me a great sense of achievement. To see everyone enjoying simple activities like quizzes, bingo, cake decoration and card making is so rewarding.
“I have been living in Hallglen for over 44 years and I felt it had lost its sense of community spirit. It is now coming back with the activities being held at this community centre.” – Community member
With an award of just over £11,000, they had plenty of options. The money went towards training two new volunteers in the café, giving these local young people skills to take them on into employment and beyond, as well as food and ingredients for lunches in the café, and tables and chairs that could be used both indoors and outside.
A large proportion of the grant went towards putting on four events. These events were instrumental in securing Ettrick Dochart Community Hall as somewhere to celebrate, meet new people, learn new skills, and socialise with neighbours. This is the kind of coming together that would have been much more challenging, if not impossible, without the bright, spacious, updated hall and the generous grant from Falkirk Food Futures and the UK Community Renewal Fund.
One event took place at Easter, and three more during the summer months. These events were very well attended, and served to highlight small businesses in the area, as well, so they also contributed to the local economy during a difficult year.
The fund was originally granted to build a fence around a growing area, where locals would come together in a community green space to invest their time and energy in producing good food in a social, enjoyable setting. However, the reality of putting in a fence was more complicated as the hall needed to seek permission from the land owner. While they were awaiting the result of this request, the money was instead used for another kind of positive activity: batch cooking.
The batch cooking group takes place each Monday afternoon, giving local residents of all ages the knowledge and skills to take home and make their domestic cooking easier, healthier, and even more fun.
“I really, really love being involved in meeting people. Knowing that you have different people, old and young, to talk to about any issue, is comforting. There is a great sense of comradeship with the people who attend the café.” – Community member
The hall also runs a community café: members of the community come together to cook a meal each week, and then enjoy it together. These lunches also incorporate an activity such as bingo, crafting, telling each other’s stories, and celebrating birthdays. These are a truly positive force in a deprived area, giving attendees the chance to make real connections and enjoy a social event within their communities, for a low or no cost to themselves.
By strengthening community links and improving access to social activities, the committee at Ettrick Dochart Community Hall is providing an essential service to the local area. In a geographic location without many of the facilities and amenities required to Live Well Locally, the hall gives the wider community a way to foster connectivity and enjoyment in their lives. The grant of more than £11,000 has been put to incredible use in the community.