Church needs more space for community services to grow

Viewcare Project coordinator Debbie Wilson addresses the networking meeting
Viewcare Project coordinator Debbie Wilson addresses the networking meeting

Viewpark Parish Church is aiming to raise £1000,000 to build an extension and allow its services to flourish.

The ViewCare Project was established as an umbrella term for Christians Against Poverty, Home Comforts, Basics Food Bank, the Clothing and Home Bank and Through-Care.

In September, the church was successful in receiving funding to appoint project co-ordinator Debbie Wilson to oversee its development.

She said: “As a member of the church I was aware of the services, but it was clear they weren’t interlinked – each service acted rather independently of each other.

“I met with the minister, the Rev Michael Lyall, a few times to discuss the services.

“My background is in developing businesses so we wanted to see how we could bring everything together.

“Once I took on the role, I started to look at what was available in Lanarkshire already to see who we could partner up with.

“I started off letting people know what we do and asked how we could help them. It has grown stronger and stronger from there.”

Debbie organised a networking event in the church last month to allow all the partners to come together and discuss how best to achieve their common goal – helping those less fortunate in society.

She said: “I had never met some of our partners so I wanted to bring everyone together to let them know what we do and what services we provide.

“All agencies have their own skills and I’m a great believer in networking so we can learn how each service compliments another and how we can work better in partnership.

“We have some people who are looking for food, who didn’t realise there was a clothing bank so they go away with both or they might need a debt service, or if they need something that one of our partners can provide.

“It’s very much a two-way street. For instance one of our partners runs a charity shop that sells beds, sofas, etc. We can’t take these goods as we have nowhere to store them, so what do you do when people contact us looking for such things?”

The church has been given planning permission to build an extension.

Having raised £50,000 on its own, it is now applying for funding for the other half of the construction costs.

Debbie said: “We are looking for funding to expand the church in order to accommodate everything.

“At the moment the household goods and clothing are all on the stage and in what used to be the youth room so we can’t use either for anything else.

“The food bank is in another wee room so we really need space to accommodate everything.

“We also want to offer new services such as life skills to teach people how to cook and budget, and employment services, but we can’t do that until we have more space.

“Before I started they were talking about how to achieve extra storage but no one will fund just storage.

“So I thought why not have somewhere that people can actually walk into with a bit of storage in it.

“If the worst comes to the worst and we don’t get the full amount, we’ll have to see what we can build with the money we do have.

“Hopefully, it won’t come to that though.

“When you are asking for £100,000 it puts some funders off, but when you can say you already have half the money, it shows we are doing what we can and not just looking for a handout.”

The church currently has a major funding application submitted that will be decided in October.

Meantime, it is exploring other avenues to raise cash, while still doing what it can to help people.

Debbie said: “These things don’t happen overnight, they take time to get where they need to be.

“As the co-ordinator, for me it is about managing what we have. Then, hopefully, when we get the extension we can deliver other services.

“We want our partners, say the employment team, to come in once a month because it’s all connected.

“If someone needs a food bank, you often find they also need debt advice or employment advice.

“Very rarely is anyone experiencing a single issue.

“We are only an emergency stop. We can’t wave a magic wand – we can only do what we can do.

“But if we can develop our services then, hopefully, we can do a little more.

“I’ll just keep plugging away. It’s all you can do.

“And in the meantime, we will keep looking for other avenues of support.”