Ambitious plan to find the heart of the community

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A PIONEERING church is aiming to become the “heartbeat of its community” after being chosen for a new regeneration project.

Tron St Mary’s in Balornock is one of eight parishes taking part in the Church of Scotland’s Chance to Thrive programme, which plans to regenerate some of the country’s poorest areas.

The five-year pilot scheme, which was launched at the Scottish Parliament recently, will give residents support and access to different organisations to help them bring about changes in their communities.

The church, which works with asylum seekers in the Red Road area, says the programme means it will be able to get more involved in the regeneration of Red Road and expand its work in the community.

The Reverend Jill Clancy said: “We’re really excited about what this is going to mean for the church and the community – the possibilities are endless.

“We want to reach out to nurture the community and fulfil its needs, and bring aspiration and sparkle back into people’s lives.

“We will be part of whatever it is that the community thinks is needed in the area and we will work with other groups to lift the profile of the place and give people a purpose.”

The church, which started in the Red Road area in the 1940s after moving from Trongate, already runs a number of groups for residents including English classes, a community cafe and a drop-in centre.

It also intends to employ a family support worker to give advice and help in the community.

The Reverend Dr Martin Johnstone, co-ordinator of the Church of Scotland’s work in deprived areas, said: “We know that real change comes about when people who live in local communities are really listened to and supported to become the architects of change.

“This is not primarily about buildings – it is about people and their aspirations for the places where they live.

“It is about a model of regeneration which recognises the importance of inter-dependence – that in order to build places where we all want to live everyone needs to be involved.”

READY TO GET GOING: Jean Slimmon and the Reverend Jill Clancy are pictured above at Tron St Mary’s Church in Balornock. (K11859a)