It’s been one year since the Reid Macewen Activity Centre opened on the Veterans Village in Bishopton. It has been such a life-changing year for the Veterans who attend, that the charity is exploring options to replicate the service elsewhere.
Since the doors first opened on the 15th January 2018 there have been over 1,600 sessions including woodwork, art, holistic therapy, boxing, bowls, archery, IT and genealogy with over 5,000 attendances. From an initial 15 Veterans who indicated an interest, there are now 104 Veterans registered ranging in age from 37 to 94.
The varied programme of activities changes weekly, based on suggestions from the Veterans. Some highlights from the first year include an Armed Forces Day event in June attended by 150 people, a visit to Faslane Naval Base and trip down the River Clyde on HMS Tracker, a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, an Oktoberfest party and an Activity Centre Team of Veterans competing in the charities Sporting Senior Games, where they won medals in bowling and basketball.
Attending the centre has had a big impact on people’s lives like Army Veteran Billy McPike who said: “I never had much human contact when sitting at home and was starting to get depressed. Then I came here and it’s turned my life around. It’s a fantastic place where I’ve had the best few months I’ve had for a long, long time.”
Activity Centre Manager, Debs Dickson said: “We had no idea what to expect when the centre opened and we are delighted that it has proved a huge success. There is a very therapeutic environment here, partly due to the beautiful building, but also due to the fantastic team of staff. We have seen positive changes in a lot of our Veterans over the year with regards to their confidence and self-esteem which has been wonderful to witness and long may it continue.”
Erskine Chief Executive, Wing Commander Ian Cumming said: “Meaningful, social activities and interaction are key components of the “Erskine care experience” at our four nursing homes. It was therefore no surprise to us that isolated Veterans in West of Scotland flocked to the Reid Macewen Centre. I’m delighted to announce that Trustees have now given us permission to identify other venues and locations across Scotland, where Veterans may be in need of more of these life-changing and, frankly, life-saving Centres. We’d welcome donations, support and advice from potential public and government partners, across the country.”
Developed as part of the *Unforgotten Forces Project, the centre is open Monday to Friday between 9.30am to 3.30pm. Transport is available for Veterans who do not drive with a cooked lunch available every day for £2. If you are a Veteran interested in finding out more about the centre call 0141 814 4535.