Tillydrone is a Community Regeneration Project Area where there is a multiplicity of personal and social needs which exclude socially and economically disadvantaged residents from integration in the local community.
In October 2003 the Lighthouse Support Centre was launched in Unit 2 within Tillydrone Shopping Centre, Hayton Road, Aberdeen. The initiative arose from an identified need for a ‘community support project’ which could engage vulnerable individuals suffering from complex life issues such as alcohol and drug addiction, poverty, social exclusion, loneliness, isolation and who were in need of support to cope with daily living challenges.
The Lighthouse Support Centre was a partnership of Christian social agencies. Aberdeen City Mission (ACM) and Deeside Christian Fellowship (DCF) took a lead role and were supported by Prison Fellowship Scotland and other networking partners. At that time the aim was to offer holistic support – emotional, practical, and spiritual : –
- Practical help – clothes, food, access to furniture, housing, finance, advocacy, form filling;
- Emotional support through one-to-one sessions;
- Spiritual guidance and pastoral care.
The project was administered by ACM and co-ordinated by two leaders from DCF – John Merson and Wilma Taylor – who were assisted by a team of trained and supported volunteers. Good working relationships were set up with local statutory agencies and voluntary agencies with service users being supported to access their services.
Research conducted with the clients, other residents and other agencies in Tillydrone revealed there was a real need in the Tillydrone community for more targeted and integrated services to support vulnerable people.
Due to increase in clients and the demand on the services, Unit 1 was acquired in the spring of 2007. Considerable resources and finance were committed to an extensive restructuring of Units 1 and 2 to provide a larger, more suitable environment to facilitate the work of the Lighthouse Support Centre. Renovations and alterations included the provision of a kitchen area, 2 counselling rooms, children’s area, recreation/craft area and safe storage areas. The ‘new Lighthouse’ was formally opened in September 2007. Bethany Christian Trust (BCT) took over ACM and continued to hold the lease of the Units.
Since that time there was a continual increase in terms of client numbers and demand for the Lighthouse services. Research conducted with the clients, other residents and other agencies in Tillydrone revealed there was a real need in the Tillydrone community for more targeted and integrated services to support vulnerable people.
BCT and DCF had a desire to enhance the existing service and to develop new person centred services to meet these needs, therefore in 2010 an additional unit – Unit 3 – was leased from Aberdeen City Council. DCF thereafter took over the lease from BCT of all 3 Units in the shopping Centre and took ownership of the Lighthouse Centre work.
An extensive restructure of the Lighthouse was undertaken to provide a larger kitchen which would allow cookery training to be offered to clients and volunteers; unit 1 re-floored and turned into a ‘bistro’/cafe area; unit 2 was designated a ‘quiet’ space with softer seating and an area for crafts, beauty therapist, meetings etc; in Unit 3 an office, children’s area, staff toilet with changing facilities for children and a galley kitchen area were developed.
The Lighthouse Support Centre continues to provide opportunities and support to the whole Tillydrone community; from some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people to those who are simply looking to meet new friends. Our weekly programme caters for men and women who have suffered from chronic addiction problems and associated issues, lone parents who have no venue and limited finance to meet other parents, low income individuals and families who struggle to afford household items, parents/carers looking to engage in activities with their young children, and individuals who lack opportunities to embark on education, training and employment opportunities.