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December 12, 2007

Yoker Community Campus

In 1997, a group of local people had an idea for a community based training and skills development centre. After much local effort, and a £2.8 million refurbishment of a former school building, the Yoker Community Campus recently opened its doors.


The Yoker Community Campus, opened in August 2006 is the result of a six year endeavour of local community representatives to regenerate the derelict and unsightly building of the previous Yoker School. This project involved a £2.8million refurbishment and equipping of a very prominent main road site which had lay derelict for over 10 years. The original school building was built over 100 year ago and ceased operation as the local school in 1965. The premise was then operated as a community neighbourhood and community education facility until 1995 when due to significant health and safety concerns had been closed completely.

The projects aim was to re-establish vital locally based services for a community who had been deeply affected by the decline of the shipbuilding and heavy engineering industries, for so long, the main supply of employment and wealth creation in the area. This industrial downturn and the continued lack of investment in the area had resulted in high levels of unemployment, poor health, poor services, poor environmental quality and inadequate housing. Over 20 years ago, a number of community residents had established the Yoker Resource Group, a charitable status organisation, to support local families, create and operate a number of community initiatives and lobby for increased economic and social investment.

The original Dumbarton Road Corridor Small SIP baseline study had indicated several significant demographic issues that supported the need for such a facility, these included;-
* Only 27% of local residents were in full time employment
* 53% felt their lack of skills/qualifications was a barrier to employment
* 42% had no qualifications
* 71% had no access to the internet or e-mail
The general neighbourhood has also been identified as being within the lowest 15% of the country as defined by the Scottish Indices of Multiple Deprivation.

In attracting a range of key partners including Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow City Council, ERDF and the then Dumbarton Road Corridor Smaller SIP along with the local NHS, the community drove the desire to create a modern custom equipped facility to act as a central point of regeneration for the area.

Through the support of the Development & Regeneration Services Department of Glasgow City Council a funding package was secured and a 3-stage refurbishment plan was designed to:
1. Eradicate Rotworks and make the building wind and water tight.
2. Refurbish the interior of the premise ensuring that facilities were created for the purpose of training in a range of new growth and craft skills industries as well as maintaining some key elements of the original school’s heritage and history.
3. Fit out and furnish the restored building with modern equipment and facilities suited to the provision of training and development of unskilled and semi skilled local residents.

The restoration process which took over 4 years was completed in January 2006 and the fitting out and equipping of the new Campus was completed in August 2006. The Campus design plan focussed on the provision of 5 key training areas/concepts;-
* Craft Skills Workshops, equipped to provide high levels of skills training and practical experience in Engineering, Construction and Interior Design disciplines.
* Community Café and Training Kitchen, fitted out with modern ergonomically designed and energy efficient equipment to provide nutritional and economically effective catering as well as being suited to provide training in Catering, Food Hygiene and Customer Service.
* Child Care & Training Facility, providing crèche facilities for 2 – 5 year olds as well as opportunities for training in early years development qualifications.
* Digital Learning Centre, an ICT suite equipped with modern computing, networking and e-technology resources.
* Youth Employability Zone, equipped with modern ICT, Media and Music Recording facilities aimed at motivating and developing local young adults towards employment and personal development, particularly in the creative industries.

Each of these concept areas were also designed and equipped to provide for the needs of potential users
with additional learning and/or physical needs wherever possible.

These facilities are also supplemented by modular Training, Meeting and Interviewing rooms, an Information Zone with free to use drop in access to internet linked computers, and a spacious Main Hall, equipped to host presentations, small conferences, award ceremonies as well as public and general meetings.

In April 2006, the unfurnished facility was opened to local people for 1 week and during this event we
gathered opinions, preferences and development ideas from over 400 visitors on the types of provision,
activity and programmes that they wished to see and use. This event was invaluable in arranging
and agreeing provision with our key partners and ensuring that our initial tranche of opportunities and
activities met genuine local demand.

The first year of this project has made a significant impact on the local residents, evidenced by;-
* More than 560 local people registering for membership (Age ranges of 14 to 83 years old)
* 37 people securing job outcomes
* over 190 achieving distinct positive outcomes
* Over 140 people gaining certificates/qualifications
* Over 400 recorded visits of individuals to the new facility.
We feel that we have helped returned a sense of pride and community into the area and this will
hopefully act as a catalyst for further investment and service provision improvements in the future.

The refurbishment project was undertaken with particular emphasis on providing current and
future occupational skills provisions as well as maintaining the key heritage elements of the building
itself including the atrium, original school stairwells, balustrades, and oak beams in an effort to mix the
old with the new.
Environmental Improvements have also been made to the grounds surrounding the building itself to
create and develop safe green play space for children, a sensory garden feature and a recently
completed wishing well designed by and including the stone carvings of local schoolchildren.

This project complements and raises the visual attractiveness of the area at a time when a new 400
house waterfront development is being built directly opposite the new Campus facility. The Campus
will provide a welcome local introductory centre for these new families in the area and will provide
opportunities for integration and continued personal development for the community for many
years to come.

The campus provides a wide range of occupational training and learning opportunities incl.
* 3 Craft Skills Workshops equipped for Engineering, Construction and Interior Design
* A Community Café and Training Kitchen providing healthy eating menus and instruction, training in catering, customer service and food hygiene.
* A Digital Learning Centre equipped with modern ICT and E-business facilities.
* A Youth Employability Zone equipped with ICT and Music Recording facilities.
* A Childcare & Training facility for 2-5 year olds supporting and assisting people to access and sustain employment through affordable childcare and services.
* A Nail Care Facility offering manicure, pedicure and acrylic nail skills.
* A Stress Management Surgery offering advice, support & therapies
* Employability & Careers Guidance Service, providing Job Vacancy Boards and Personal Finance, Self Employment, In work benefits and initiatives and advice
* An Information Zone providing free internet access points for research, jobsearch etc
* Flexible modular small training, interviewing and meeting rooms as well as a Main
Hall equipped to host public presentations, awards displays and general meetings etc.

The success of this project has also helped to plan and develop a similar facility in the neighbouring Scotstoun area, due for completion in 2009 and these facilities will work in partnership to cost share on vital development, delivery and staff expertise elements to help ensure the sustainability of both community owned facilities well into the future.

We are immensely proud of this facility and the difference it as already making to the area and the people of Yoker – We genuinely feel that our project and its success meet the specific criteria of these prestigious awards.