West Dunbartonshire community facility let agreed
A charity which aims to alleviate food poverty and social isolation is set to expand its operation after West Dunbartonshire councillors agreed a long term let of a community facility.
Old Kilpatrick Food Parcels (OKFP) is relocating to the village’s Napier Hall with plans to extend and enhance the building for the benefit of the whole community.
The charity is set to sign a 10-year lease for Napier and will operate its food bank distribution service and social enterprise Chatty Café from the building’s annexe with the main hall made available for existing community groups to use.
Alongside distributing food parcels to over 200 families and individuals each week across Old Kilpatrick and surrounding areas, the charity also offers a range of activities daily to relieve social isolation and also signposts to professional organisations who can help with specific needs.
Napier Hall was one of seven community facilities being reviewed by the council as part of efforts to close a £21 million budget gap with options including community asset transfer and long-term lease to be considered.
Following engagement with the community, four expressions of interest were received.
In a report to a special meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council’s Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development committee, officers recommended OKFP as it was the only option which delivered on the savings option approved at the council in March, provided the greatest level of assurance to the council and sustained the building for the community’s use.
Councillor David McBride, convener of the committee, said: “We recognise that Napier Hall is a valued asset in Old Kilpatrick and the option approved today supports a charity to continue its vital work, maintains access for the community groups who use the building and also retains and enhances the facility for future years.
“I know it has been an uncertain few months and want to thank the community in Old Kilpatrick as I appreciate the effort that has gone in to prepare the proposals for the building from each group. The decision enables the community to move forward together and also provides an opportunity for OKFP to take forward a community asset transfer in future.
“The financial picture is challenging and this has meant we need to consider the way we deliver our Council services. This is a strong example of what can be achieved when we work together.”
Maureen Cummings, who established OKFP in 2020 to support families and individuals during the Covid pandemic and lockdown, added: “The need for our charity has never been greater and the move to Napier Hall will enable us to expand our services further and continue work towards alleviating social isolation.
“We started OKFP to help people during Covid but the cost of living crisis has meant demand had increased far beyond what we had ever anticipated. Old Kilpatrick has a great sense of community and it is from that we were able to launch and grow.
“We are looking forward to working together with other groups in the village and have plans to enhance the facilities with an extension off the annexe for our café and a new kitchen area off the main hall which will be dedicated for existing and new community groups to use to support their activities.”