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The Ardross-man

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April 2020

Board of Trustees – vacancy

I hope you are all well and keeping yourselves safe from this virus outbreak.

These last couple of months since the lockdown and the temporary closure of our Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan have been very difficult for my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety.

We depend upon the evening rental of our hall to local groups (North Ayrshire Muay Thai, McMillan Boxfit, Tai Chi, etc.) to pay for our running costs of heating, lighting, building and instructor insurance, etc. and being closed means our funds are gradually running low.

Obviously, there are a few funders which have been set up to help charities affected by the Coronavirus lockdown and we have applied to a couple but have not heard anything back yet. Our fingers are crossed though.

But last week, we also received the devastating news that the Chair of our charity, Pamela Anderson (no, not of Baywatch fame but of Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce fame) informed us of her decision to resign from her post due to ill health.

Pamela has amassed a great deal of knowledge encompassing human resources and employment law from a career spanning small private companies, large corporate organisations and local authorities – and she will be sadly missed.

So, would YOU like to join our Board? Well, let me tell you a bit about our charity;

The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety provides empowering Personal Safety, Conflict Resolution and practical self defence training to businesses, groups and individuals but particularly vulnerable people targeted by Hate Crime.

We help female survivors of violence (rape, sexual abuse and domestic abuse); LGBTI groups; ethnic minority groups; and people who are sensory impaired; to name but a few.

Our Charity’s mission is to potentially save lives by;

  • The provision of practical training and solutions to help people avoid violence and aggression.
  • The raising of awareness of the importance of personal safety in Scottish communities.
  • The provision of a point of contact for those who are at risk of violence or those seeking advice in Scotland.
  • The reduction of the fear of crime throughout Scotland.

 

Our objective is simply to empower individuals to manage safer lives.

And we sum up our aims and objectives in one, very powerful statement;

We champion equality, diversity and human rights as defining values of our charity.

We promote equality of opportunity for all, empowering every individual to achieve their potential, free from prejudice and discrimination.

Unfortunately, Board resignations due to ill health have left us now looking for THREE Trustee posts to fill.

The Board only meet in our Centre once per quarter (July, October, January and April of each year) with each meeting only lasting approximately 2 hours. So basically, we are only looking for a minimum of 8 hours commitment per year.

If your background connects with our charity and the people we help, and you are interested in joining the Board of our multi award-winning charity, please get in touch with me at alan@ScotCPS.org.uk and I will answer any questions you may have and send you a copy of our Constitution to read over.

Thanking you in advance, for your interest

Alan Bell

The Ardrossman

Door replacement

I mentioned in a previous article that we had Resource Efficient Scotland (RES) in at our Barony St John Centre for an energy saving survey. Well, they made a number of suggestions which I hope to achieve and tell you about over the next few months but one of those suggestions was to replace the main entrance door to our Centre.

You see, I knew we had problems with wind and water ingress around windows and I knew we could do with an upgraded heating system and extra insulation but one of the biggest culprits of heat loss in our building was staring me in the face and I just never clicked until RES told me.

Sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the trees……and this wooden door was a major problem.

           

The entrance door to the Barony St John takes the full brunt of the winds from the sea and over the years it has gradually rotted in places.

Additionally, a wooden door is not the best for energy efficiency. It swells and contracts with heat. So, in the Summer time it is fine but in the Winter months, it contracts allowing the wind and rain to penetrate into the building and drives the warmth of the building out.

Obvious really but like most things that stare you in the face, it never registered with me until they mentioned it.

RES suggested we replace the door and frame with a more solid and energy efficient PVC door with sealed edges. This would not only make the building more energy efficient but also make it more secure.

I had a chat with the Council’s Planning Department and they agreed that the door could be replaced – as long as the door and the frame stayed the same colour…red.

Keeping it red, especially with a red frame added a lot to the overall cost but needs must and by mid-March, the door had been made (you can’t just buy an off the shelf door as the door dimensions of church buildings aren’t the same as a house or office).

The old door was taken out.

And the new door put in.

         

And what a difference it has made. The temperature has increased in our doorway by 6 degrees on bad weather days.

If you would like to help me fundraise for the repairs and renewals to make the Barony St John Centre wind and watertight, please get in touch.

I will keep you posted on all the renovation works.

Goodbye for now.

Coronavirus

Monday 16th March 2020 was a sad day for me. I had to suspend the services of my charity, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, and temporarily close our base, the Barony St John Centre in Ardrossan, due to the coronavirus.

The day before, Sunday 15th, I had to seriously think about these measures. Many of the people we help through the provision of our Personal Safety courses are vulnerable and all of training we provide has a hands-on element as we teach practical self defence skills.

The virus outbreak had meant that our volunteer trainers had to sanitize their hands before and after every self defence technique was demonstrated and then every participant had to do the same. We could go through a bottle of sanitizer per training session.

Another issue that weighed heavily on me was that I had a duty of care towards my volunteers, many of whom, including myself, have their own health problems.

Taking this all into account, I felt I had no option other than to suspend our training courses.

Now, I could have decided to leave our Centre open for evening classes, even although the cost of providing equipment and hand sanitizer for our gym users combined with heating bills would far outweigh any hall rental we receive, but things took an unexpected turn when I developed a sore throat and a sporadic cough. This was enough for me to be advised to self-isolate probably due to my lung condition and even although I’m pretty sure this has nothing to do with the coronavirus.

For any other charity or organisation, the containment of the founder would not be an issue, however I not only develop and teach the courses we provide; I also clean the Centre every day and without my input, there would be no-one to clean the gym equipment, punchbags, floor mats, sterilize the boxing gloves, clean the toilets and reception, etc. etc.

The cleaner we hire to come in once per week just couldn’t cope with all these added duties never mind the additional expense.

But there was another problem; I had been in the Centre on a daily basis, so if I was infected, the Centre could be too.

It was too high a risk. The Centre had to close.

Initially, some people felt I had “jumped the gun” and closed the charity’s activities prematurely but as Monday 16th wore on, I started to see more of our partner organisations follow suit.

RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) suspended their group activities; Deafblind Scotland cancelled all meetings and social activities; and Scottish War Blinded closed their Centres completely.

I felt vindicated. Closing our Centre was the right thing to do, partially as we have the added responsibility of being a nationally recognised charity.

Since then, I have had time to ponder over this outbreak and its consequences;

We were initially told not to panic buy so those of us who didn’t soon became faced with the reality that now that they needed basic food items and supplies, there just wasn’t any left. The shelves are always bare.

People are going mad, fighting over toilet rolls and pasta – and this was only in the first week or so of the virus – even before the Prime Minister asked people to stay at home.

It reminded me of the TV show “The Walking Dead” where the world has been taken over by a virus which has turned people into zombies.

I remember watching this show about six years ago and seeing the “good” survivors fight the “bad” survivors as well as the zombies. It was an apocalyptic vision.

Unfortunately, this vision is all too easy to visualise now as things begin to spiral out of control with this virus. Even the name, COVID 19, has some kind of zombie connotations for me.

As I watched people fight over groceries and resort to fisticuffs over who was first in the till queue, I realised that there simply wouldn’t be good and bad survivors like in “The Walking Dead”. The good guys just wouldn’t be there. There is no room for compassion when it comes down to the last toilet roll.

No, the vision of the future I was beginning to have was more like the movie “Mad Max” where ALL the survivors are bad with a mean streak and able to kill anyone for whatever they need. I guess you would have to be like that just to survive.

This realisation depressed the hell out of me! Would I want to live in a world like that?

Luckily, there has been some good news as grocery stores enforce a “two items only” policy begin to have “Senior Citizen Opening Times” where the elderly can shop before anyone else without fear of being knocked over.

Hopefully, people will begin to calm down and show a bit of compassion. Stores will be stocked regularly, so if you can’t get certain foods today, they will hopefully be available tomorrow.

I’m hoping we can all be a bit more thoughtful and kinder to each other in the future. Let’s not fall out over a toilet roll.

Meanwhile, I will keep you posted on all the renovation works that are planned for the Barony St John Centre and if you would like to read more about my charity, visit http://www.ScotCPS.org.uk

Goodbye for now.

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