The Ochiltree Community Hub is a SCIO Charity, formed in October 2014, and has 11 local residents on its Trustee Board. The OCH was formed after East Ayrshire Council announced that they were closing the village’s community centre and library, this action leaving the rural community with no access to facilities or services in which to improve health, wellbeing and inclusion. A village survey demonstrated overwhelming demand for a community facility. The Vision of the OCH was the establishment of a new community facility that would be a well-used, high profile, multipurpose and connected community hub promoting and improving Health and Wellbeing, Education, Community Cohesion and Togetherness.
The old facility was demolished in 2016. The community raised £1.8m to develop the project starting with purchasing the land previously occupied by the council facility. In 2018 the construction phase started with completion following 1 year later.
Using the information from the community survey the New Community Hub was designed with key features, the heart of the facility was designed to be a vibrant and bustling Café. Community events space was also incorporated, a large a sports hall, versatile meeting spaces, fully accessible through out all key features in the design to meet the needs of the community, re-energising village life, and the wider Ochiltree and Skares rural area.
The continued vision of Ochiltree Community Hub is for the community, with the community, by the community. Since opening in 2019 the Hub has developed relationships with East Ayrshire Health and Social Care partnership to bring health improving projects to the community. The Hub has hosted vaccination, stop smoking groups, hearing aid clinics, fall prevention classes all targeting specific health issues. To further impact health there has been several exercise and wellbeing classes including yoga, pilates and high impact exercise classes.
Building a community that inspires people to participate in new and different activities has seen the continuation of the village art classes which have developed into arts and crafts, new dance classes, cinema Saturday for kids and retro cinema for classic films. All of these can be seen to help with rural isolation, but the Hub goes further to reach as many people with different activities as possible. Social bingo, Scottish ceilidhs, knit and natter coffee group, board game night, social lunches, tea dances. The Hub has had a period of lockdown due to the pandemic but has bounced pack in stages to support local people in the recovery from the pandemic and to get back to working together to achieve great things as a community.
Supporting StatementThe Hub has been a catalyst for change in the community. Throughout the Ochiltree Community Hub journey the local community were involved in consultation meetings, business plans and design.
The community of Ochiltree and Skares has seen enhanced levels of participation and cohesion from October 2014 when the Ochiltree Community Hub received charitable status. The vision of the new Hub becoming the catalyst of positive change for our rural community became a reality through the Hub collaborating with the Community Led Action Plan Group to produce their 2017 / 2022 action plan of which the new Hub facility was key and a major objective.
Community involvement continues with 50 registered volunteers being involved in the new Hub through the café, gardening, maintenance, administration, and management. There is tangible evidence of growing community spirit through complementary strands of activity, increasing the wellbeing of the inhabitants of the village and its environs. Participation and cohesion are witnessed through improving entrances to the village by grass cutting/ planting of flowers, replacing village seating, creating the Gritter Gang responsible for gritting /clearing of snow in winter, ensuring safer walking for all, regenerating the Gala Day into a Summer Celebration, and organising children’s Christmas Parties.
The team has listened to the community, constantly re-evaluating their needs, and identifying opportunities. Working together with other community groups in the village showcases community empowerment using one community space as an anchor from where goodness spreads.
The people using the space are diverse, from school children through to the elderly population. With the Hub’s free flowing design, accessible needs are met.
The Hub’s design and passion is to be a key feature of village life in the future. To allow this, the design of the space was to complement the tone of the village. The build included solar panels and electric car charging points combined with a management system that allows a low carbon footprint. Sustainable design to sustain a community. Key features inspiring the facility to push hard towards net zero and lead the village with new carbon literacy training in the coming months.
The Hub overcame challenges through design, meeting funding requirements and budgeting to be able to service its community to grow together. Nominating the project is one of the ways to recognise the community’s effort, loyalty and passion.