We got a Highly Commended certificate at the North Ayrshire Health & Social Care Partnership’s Staff Awards in the category of “Community Superheroes”.
I hold our bi-annual Instructor Training every February and September and last week we had our physical skills training update in our Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan.
My charity is The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety and we provide personal safety advice as well as practical self defence training to businesses, schools, groups and individuals but particularly vulnerable people.
We work with Police Scotland, Rape Crisis Scotland, ASSIST and various Women’s Aid groups to help female survivors of violence; we work with Open Ayrshire, Transmasculine Scotland and various LGBT groups to help the LGBT community stay safe; we work with various ethnic minority groups across the country including the Rainbow Muslim Women group, Sikh Sanjog and Edinburgh Chinese School; we run free of charge personal safety and self defence workshops in Auchenharvie Academy and soon Ardrossan Academy with an invitation sent out to St Matthew’s Academy remaining to be answered; and we provide our award-winning Personal Safety course for People who are Sensory Impaired free of charge to to Deafblind Scotland, Forth Valley Sensory Centre, The Disability Resource Centre and of course people in Ayrshire who are sensory impaired.
Keeping our training and skills current is therefore paramount.
So, every February, our volunteer instructors gather from across Scotland and we revise the practical self defence techniques which we teach. We also revise our personal safety advice to ensure it is up to date and effective.
Every September, we gather again to update our knowledge of Child Protection, LGBTI definitions, People Trafficking, Sensory Impairment training, Health & Safety, Fire Prevention and First Aid.
It’s a pretty full on, eight-hour day but essential to not only keep our volunteers up to date with the Law and able to give accurate advice if asked, but also to kept our insurers and funders happy that we are all competent and our standards are high.
One of our blind volunteers, Yvette Robertson was also presented with a “No.1 Volunteer” trophy on behalf of the charity for her outstanding work over the last year.
If you would like to become a volunteer Personal Safety Instructor yourself, why not email me at Alan@ScotCPS.org.uk and I will tell you what it entails – or take a peak at our website http://www.ScotCPS.org.uk
As the owner of the former Barony St John church and hall buildings on Ardrossan’s shorefront, winter is usually a fairly depressing time of the year for me.
Cold, wet weather and storms galore play havoc with public transport, making it difficult for the service users of our charity (The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety) to get to and from our Barony St John Centre, despite it being so close to bus and railway links.
Having the former Barony St John hall building can be a problem – we need to make sure it’s wind and watertight, which isn’t always easy in a 131-year-old building – but having the former church building to look after too, always proves to be a challenge.
The church building is 156-years-old and has been derelict, as far as I know, since 2010.
A couple of months ago during Storm Brendan, several parts of our buildings roof were damaged including the overhang roof from the hall building to the church building blew down and needed work on it to repair the damage. Luckily, we had sealed the doors to the church and hall back in November 2019, effectively separating both buildings, so the internal damage was minimal. But last week the Ardrossan coastline was once again battered – this time by Storm Ciara.
Storm Ciara proved to be much stronger than Storm Brendan and although no roofing was blown off our buildings this time, we did get quite severe water ingress into the church building.
Missing roof tiles meant roof leaks above the shore facing windows of the church and these have brought ceiling plasterwork down and sent water falling onto the upper gallery floor….which in turn, has seeped downwards, bringing down more ground floor ceiling plasterwork and creating a huge internal puddle at the main entrance of the church.
It doesn’t look good but at least the main structure of the building is still sound.
When my charity first came to Ardrossan back in 2015, I said I would give ourselves three years to renovate and equip the Barony St John Centre and open up to the public. This was achieved by 2016 and a Feasibility Study recommended that we try to convert the church building into an Events Centre as a secondary source of income for us.
I pledged to try to achieve this by 2020 but, reluctantly, I now have to admit defeat.
For many, this will be sad news but some of you reading this will be smiling now because some of you actively stood in our way, preventing us from developing the church building. But who loses out on this? Is it me? My charity? Or the people of Ardrossan who have lost a fantastic opportunity to increase jobs in the town, increase visitor spend in the town and also lost the chance of a great local venue for live bands, plays and exhibitions right on their doorstep?
Either way, without backing from the Council and the “movers and shakers” of Ardrossan, this dream cannot be turned into a reality – at least not on my watch.
It’s therefore time to face the reality; we will continue to own and improve the Barony St John hall building (our Centre), but it looks like, regrettably, we will have to put the former Barony St. John’s Church building up for sale later this year. Maybe someone else can develop the church into an Events Centre or flats or a dream home on the seafront?
We will however, continue to look into how the hall building can be developed and I will keep you posted of this progress, as well as the final destination of the church building as the year goes on.