SAS veteran and star of TV programme: SAS – Who Dares Wins, Colin Maclachlan, today opened the Erskine Reid Macewen Activity Centre for veterans in Bishopton.
The centre is a completely new initiative for veterans’ charity Erskine, set up to enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of veterans in the community. Developed as part of the Unforgotten Forces Project it is open every weekday, offering veterans the opportunity to socialise together; learn and develop new skills; enjoy a variety of activities as well as access support services.
The doors of the centre opened for the first time on 15th January with 35 veterans using the facility to date. 70% are British Army veterans; 20% RAF and 10% Royal Navy. 57% of the veterans live in Renfrewshire with others living in West Dunbartonshire (13%); North Lanarkshire (10%); Glasgow City (10%); South Lanarkshire (7%) and Inverclyde (3%). 44% of attendees are over 65 years old; 33% aged between 55-64; 10% between 45-54 with 13% between 35-44 years.
The varied programme of activities changes on a weekly basis and are put together based on suggestions from the veterans. Popular activities include IT; genealogy; woodwork and model making and art. A number of the veterans are extremely talented artists who are relishing spending time with sessional workers in the art class.
Visiting groups offering veterans’ support so far have included: Erskine Shoulder to Shoulder (mentoring support); Action on Hearing Loss and drop in sessions with Veterans Welfare Service and Armed Forces Advice Project (ASAP).
Everyone at Erskine was delighted to welcome Edinburgh born Colin Maclachlan to the Activities Centre. Colin was in the Royal Scots for nine years before being selected for Special Air Service (SAS).
Activity Centre Manager, Debs Dickson said: “We are creating something very special here on the Erskine Estate. I have watched veteran’s progress immensely in the short period of time we have had with them. I strongly believe the secret is ensuring the Activities Centre is developed by participants for participants, to ensure we are creating a hub with veterans at its heart.”
Former chef with the Army, Steven Wyllie, has been a regular at the centre since it opened. Like many people who suffer from PTSD, Steven finds it impossible to use public transport and for several years was confined to the house. He said: “I am no longer socially isolated, I feel comfortable in the centre amongst the ex-military family. Being picked up at my front door and dropped off really helps otherwise I would be unable to attend. I have enjoyed having access to a computer and researching my family tree.”
Any veteran wishing to find out more about the Reid Macewen Activity Centre on the Erskine Estate can either drop in any day Monday – Friday between 9.30am & 3.30pm or call Debs on 0141 814 4534. Transport is available from Paisley; Greenock; Clydebank; Dumbarton and surrounding areas depending on demand. A cooked lunch is available every day for £2.