Creetown Initiative has recently been engaged by Let’s Get Sporty, a not-for-profit social enterprise based in Dumfries and Galloway, who provide sports and coaching mentoring, training and employment for young people. We will be working with Let’s Get Sporty to develop a new sport and community facility in Dumfries.
Creetown Initiative has been working with the newly formed Kirkcudbright Development Trust to develop a series of community projects, aiming to provide opportunities for residents and improve the local economy of Kirkcudbright. We landed the contract at the end of 2015 and are pleased with how Kirkcudbright Development Trust are really beginning to establish their community engagement via the development of multi-stranded community projects.
A key project has been the redevelopment of the former Johnston School into a community activity and resource centre that will provide a range of services and facilities to will benefit the community as a whole. It will:
- have multiple spaces for multiple uses and user groups, including community groups, childcare providers and education and training programme providers
- attract businesses to set up or relocate into the building, bringing trade and economic benefits into the town
- have a youth work wing that is accessible to all local young people, with appropriate facilities and services to enable local youngsters to flourish and meet their full potential. The newly established Kirkcudbright Youth Project will relocate here
- provide an information and contact point for Police Scotland to operate out of
- provide a venue for a Galloway Dark Skies Visitor Centre.
Check back in the coming months to find out the progress that has been made to secure funds and develop this exciting project further.
Dark Skies Visitor Centre
Dark Skies Visitor Centre will attract both the serious astronomer and those who have more of a Sci-Fi interest. The Johnston School is situated at the head of major road that leads to the Dark Skies Park and we believe that as well as providing a tourist attraction for Kirkcudbright, we will also act as promotional vehicle that helps push more people north into the Dark Skies Park. This will benefit the communities situated in the Dark Skies Park area, and Dumfries and Galloway in general. In the plans there is a small scale planetarium, interactive exhibits and we are helping the Trust to work with the Glasgow Science Centre to ensure Kirkcudbright Dark Skies Experience is outstanding.
We have been working with the Trust to initiate the community take over of the Silvercraigs Caravan park, which was formerly council run. The park is now under a service level agreement with Dumfries and Galloway Council and a core group of volunteers from the Development Trust have been working hard to make improvements to the site, including upgrading the electric hook ups to 16amps, installing heating in the toilets, installing free wifi and general tidying and improvements.
Three new part time youth workers have been employed by Kirkcudbright Development Trust since March 2017 and they are being line managed by the Creetown Initiative Senior Youth Worker to develop youth provision in Kirkcudbright. After a few months of consultations and detached (street) youth work, a weekly youth project began in May 2017 and runs term time on Wednesday nights, currently in the Scout Hall, for young people p6 – S1 (juniors) 6pm – 7:30pm, and S2 – S6 or age 17 (seniors) 7:30pm – 9pm.
Creetown Initiative can now reveal the official 2017 dates of the Stranraer Oyster Festival – 15th – 17th September!
Since November 2015 we have been working with Stranraer Development Trust to secure funds and support them to develop a Stranraer Oyster Festival – major annual international festival that will celebrate not only the famous Loch Ryan oysters (Scotland’s only wild, native oyster bed) but also all other local produce.
Unique to Stranraer
The unique natural resource of Loch Ryan Oysters is an asset to the town that is not currently used to its full potential. At present oyster are sent around the world but the connection with Stranraer is not recognised. The festival provides the opportunity to make this connection, increase visitor numbers to the town and support the economy of both the town and surrounds. Although the event will be called the Stranraer Oyster Festival and they will certainly be the headline, all local produce from land and sea will be included, thereby supporting all local producers.
Oysters are considered a luxury food, but oyster festivals are by no means elitist. Oyster festivals tend to take the oyster as a focal point and then create a celebration of local food, local culture and the local community around it. As Scotland’s only wild and native oyster fishery there is a huge opportunity here for Stranraer to use its unique oyster and coastal heritage to create a festival of national significance.
New Jobs and Community Support
A fantastic sum has been secured by Chris Hanna, one of our project workers, to fund all aspects of the Stranraer Oyster Festival and has allowed the Trust to employ a Festival Officer, a Youth Programme Co-ordinator and a Festival Assistant. An oyster festival has been talked about for some time by various groups and organisations and we know from initial talks that there is excitement and huge support for the event.
Other projects we have helped Stranraer Development Trust to carry out to date include Stranraer in Bloom floral enhancements and the setting up of a Resilience Fund.
Creetown Initiative has supported the development of ‘Stranraer in Bloom’ , as part of our work with Stranraer Development Trust. £10,000 was raised from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme to purchase specially designed self-watering planters for the town centre of Stranraer. The funds also paid for compost and plants to create a range of floral enhancements around the town. Now, and additional £5,000 has been secured from the Tesco Bags of Help fund to put further planters along the seafront.
Stranraer in Bloom is a project that encourages volunteers of all ages from the community to help maintain and water the planters and make Stranraer a beautiful place to live and visit. Six young people from Belmont Primary School (pictured below), along with the gardening club leader Mr Dougie Hannah helped the Trust to plant up the flower bed in Market Street and have done a fantastic job!
It is great to see the community of Stranraer to work together to help improve the facilities, economy and community spirit of their town.
From one end of the county to the other, we are now also working in Kirkcolm to produce a community action plan for Kirkcolm Community Council. A few months ago we began work on the development of a community action plan in Canonbie, to the far east of Dumfries and Galloway. Now, 112 miles across the county to the western Rhinns peninsular on the banks of Loch Ryan, we are working in Kirkcolm.
Wind Farm Money
Kirkcolm is due around £27,500 per annum of wind farm money for the next 25 years from the Glen App wind farm, to support the well being of the Parish of Kirkcolm. Creetown Initiative is supporting Kirkcolm Community Council to set up a charitable trust to manage the community benefit funds. We are also going to be creating a community action plan that the new trust can work from, designed to be of insight, use and advantage for the whole parish and for local groups seeking to improve or create services for local people. We will begin by creating a community questionnaire and develop the plan from there.
Creetown Initiative has been supporting Stranraer Development Trust to set up the Stranraer Resilience Fund. This is an opportunity for local community groups and organisations to apply for funds to alleviate the effects of welfare reform in disadvantaged communities in Stranraer. It is being supported by the Scottish Government via Development Trust Association Scotland. Stranraer Development Trust is administering the fund on their behalf.
Local community organisations can apply for a Stranraer Resilience Fund grant of between £500 and £2,000. The process is simple and quick.
Projects must have a focus on one or more of these specific themes:
Young people in need
Support for vulnerable groups
Eating healthy on a budget
Care for carers
Stranraer Development Trust are asking for interested groups to email firstname.lastname@example.org for a form and further information. We have been pleased to be able to support Stranraer Development Trust to develop this opportunity.
We have recently been engaged by Canonbie and District Residents Association (CaDRA) to carry out a Community Action Plan for Canonbie. Although 75 miles away from Creetown with a 1 hour 40 minute drive time, Canonbie is located in our massive home county of Dumfries and Galloway.
CaDRA was granted charitable status as a Development Trust at the end of 2014 and the group has been working to try to establish the best way forward for the small town, which will make the most of the local assets, whilst meeting the needs of the local community. Creetown Initiative will be carrying out the research and community consultations designed to meet these aims and we will produce a thorough Community Action Plan as a result of this work, which will be used by CaDRA to initiate community projects and development. We’re looking forward to getting started with this project and hope to have this process completed by March 2017.
We have two new exciting consultancy projects to work on, here at Creetown Initiative!
We have just begun working with Cree Valley Community Woodlands Trust and our role will be to mentor their transition project to become more sustainable. CVCWT is a partnership between Dumfries and Galloway Council, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Freshfield Foundation, Galloway Estates, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Community Councils and private landowners. They are concerned with the value of the local woodlands in contributing to tourism, recreation and biodiversity. We will be helping the Trust to progress with their projects and become more sustainable by carrying out an organisational review.
Our other project is with the New Galloway Community Enterprise group. We will be supporting the work of this proactive group, who are hoping to take over and save the village shop. The village shop in rural New Galloway is an essential service for local residents and visitors to the village and in the near future the facility will close due to the retirement of the owner. Creetown Initiative’s role will be to provide research and development work, to assist the New Galloway Enterprise group to take over and run the village shop.
Stranraer Development Trust has now been awarded Charitable Status! Creetown Initiative has been working with the group to lead on its development and it has now been successfully launched as a SCIO (Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation).
We will be working with them to support the delivery of their aims, which are to achieve sustainable regeneration of the community of Stranraer. Stranraer Development Trust will be addressing a range of economic, social, environmental and cultural issues. A number of exciting projects are in the pipeline that will increase opportunities, improve the attractiveness of the town, attract more visitors and revive the lost sense of pride in the town and what it has to offer.
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Keep checking back here to keep up to date with the development of some exciting projects for Stranraer!
“I loved that little theatre in Dumfries, for which Robert Burns once wrote prologues. I had the good fortune to frequent it in what was one of its greatest years”, J.M Barrie (1930), The Greenwood Hat.
Last night we were invited to the official re-opening night of Dumfries Theatre Royal; a Celebration of the Past, Present and Future, to watch young and old tread the boards of the historically fascinating and innately charming Georgian building. Creetown Initiative were invited as guests due to our role in securing a large proportion of the funds required to carry out the renovation works of the theatre and we marvelled at the spectacular performances of live music, poetry, readings, drama and speeches. After a welcoming speech from the Master of the Guild of Players, Anne Aldridge (the owners of the theatre), the Strumsum Blues Band opened the evening of entertainment with toe tapping numbers, followed by a variety of poetry, drama, songs and comedy, including actor Jimmy Chisholm, Gaelic language poet Angus MacMillian, musical theatre performer Michael Porter, the talents of the Junior Guild and the Guild of Players, Scots Language Poet Rab Wilson, The Singing Kettle duo Cilla Fisher and Artie Tresize, Sean Barbour and speeches from Provost of Dumfries and Nithsdale Ted Thompson and Joan McAlpine MSP.
The Theatre Royal in Dumfries is Scotland’s oldest working playhouse and was built in 1792, with Robert Burns as one of the original subscribers. In its 220 years, the theatre has seen many developments from Georgian theatre, to Victorian theatre, into modern cinema and it has taken on a few other roles in more recent times, including an auction house and a skating rink. The upkeep of the theatre has always been a challenge and the present owners, the Guild of Players, decided that crucial refurbishment and major renovations were needed to bring the building up to standard for the 21st century. That’s where Creetown Initiative stepped in! At the end of 2012, we were employed by the Guild of Players to develop a funding strategy and business plan and to carry out all of the fundraising aspects. We also carried out work on audience development, governance, collections management and marketing. In total, Creetown Initiative secured £1.1million towards the redevelopment costs.
The theatre now boasts a new studio with fully sprung floor, a new cafe-bar, set construction space, Junior Guild rehearsal rooms and media suite, costume hire shop, refurbished dressing rooms and backstage space, new theatre seating and refurbishment of the auditorium, making the navigation between the foyer, bar, auditorium and backstage more logical and better configured. For more information about the theatre please visit their website, www.theatreroyaldumfries.co.uk or better still, pop in!
The diagrams and photographs below show the changing appearance of the Theatre Royal over its 220 years. The first is a drawing of the Theatre Royal as originally built in 1792, with the pillared portico front. The second dates back to Victorian times, the third is the theatre before the works began 2 years ago, the fourth is the architects drawing of the new theatre and the final photograph is the new theatre, newly and proudly reopened.