Some of the most vulnerable families in the east of Kirkcaldy will soon have a new tailor-made support centre to help them through the most difficult times.
The Cottage Family Centre – which has its base in Templehall, has been providing an outreach service to the Gallatown, Smeaton and Dysart area for six years – has finally secured the lease of the former Marwood House at the bottom of St Clair Street (opposite Rinaldi’s chip shop) from Fife Council.
And the building is currently being cleared out and refurbished to provide a mirror set up of The Cottage in Cawdor Crescent to provide a wide range of family support services to the community.
Pauline Buchan, service manager at The Cottage, says she can’t wait to get into the new premises.
“This is so exciting. We have been working with families in the east of Kirkcaldy for some time now from two different places in the area, latterly from Viewforth Church hall, which we are very grateful for.
“But this new centre will be solely for our use and it will give us much more suitable accommodation from which to run our services.
“We started delivering children’s and families’ support six years ago because the area was identified as being among those with the highest levels of deprivation in the country.
“We hope with our new centre that we will be able to work with the communities to deliver the services they want to see and help them to turn their lives around.
“Some parts of the east of Kirkcaldy have up to 70 per cent child poverty levels and we have to do something to try to reverse that. It is completely unacceptable.”
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Marwood House was built as a local office in the early 1980s. It was later used as a social work resource centre before being converted into a Home4Good centre, which closed in 2015 when Frontline Fife moved to New Volunteer House.
It has been lying empty since then, and staff from the Cottage hope to move in by early autumn.
They have been busy applying for funding grants as well as writing to local businesses to seek help for additional resources.
As well as the family support, children’s workers, health and social work, home visiting, creche and many other services that it currently runs, the Cottage is planning to deliver a new Pantry facility, working with the Scottish Government and the Fareshare charity to offer affordable food to locals.
“A lot of our families use the Foodbank service, but there’s not a delivery point in that area,” explained Pauline.
“This would allow them to buy the food they want at reduced prices and we will also be teaching them about budgeting and basic cookery skills.
“We are also looking at an employability service, working with other groups such as adult and community education to offer a full range of services.
“I believe this will make a massive difference in the east of Kirkcaldy.
“What we want is to see the number of families who find themselves in crisis – having no food for their children or having to decide between heating their homes or buying shoes for them – reducing.
“We want to see families at this point, before it becomes a major problem so we can intervene and there will be less likelihood of them going on to have more problems in the future.”
When the new centre is up and running it will initially be run by Pauline, before being handed over to Kelly Rodgers, assistant service manager.
“It will be good to spend time there so we can understand what the needs of the people in the area are,” said Kelly.
“Each area has its own needs and although many will be the same as the Templehall area, there will be different things that people will want to see in Kirkcaldy east.
“Until you are there, working with them, this can be difficult to work out.”
Pauline added: “We want to say a big thanks to the people who use our service for their patience. They have been asking for this centre for a long time.
“The Cottage can go anywhere because it is the people who make it work, but to have their own premises will make a huge difference as they will have somewhere they can go in times of need.”
Marwood House was built as a local area office for Fife Council in the early 1980s. It was later used as a social work resource centre then for community learning by Fife Council. It was run by community services and social work. In the evenings local tenants and residents associations used it for their meetings.
It then became a base for Frontline Fife’s Home4Good initiative, closing in 2015 when the service moved to New Volunteer House.
It was named in memory of Eric Marwood, a founder of the Home4Good concept in Fife and homelessness manager for Fife Council. Eric died in his 40s from cancer, before the centre opened.