In October 2003 the Lighthouse Support Centre was launched in Unit 2 within the Old Tillydrone Shopping Centre in Hayton Road, Aberdeen. The initiative arose from an identified need for a ‘community support project’ which could engage with those feeling vulnerable 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 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.
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.
Due to an 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.
BCT and DCF had a desire to enhance the existing service and to develop new person centred services and the real need in the Tillydrone Community for more targeted and integrated support services, 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 and an extensive restructure of the Lighthouse was undertaken.
2017/18 was a difficult time for the Lighthouse as their base within the now mostly derelict Shopping Centre, had been demolished to make room to build the new community hub. Due to a suitable shortage of space within Tillydrone, many of the groups, although still being held, were scattered throughout the area. The McColls Group kindly offered office space within their building from which some of the smaller groups were held. Other buildings in the area were used including Aberdeen Lad’s Club, for Sunday church and Woodside Community Centre for Mainly Music and school football training.
In the summer of 2019, the new home of the Lighthouse became the newly built Tillydrone Community Campus (TCC) in Hayton Road. The new, fresh, surroundings of the building were greatly welcomed by everyone and all groups, including the office, relocated for the new term to start in September 2019. The TCC was officially opened in August 2019 as part of the regeneration work in the heart of the community.
All was going very well until in March 2020, due to the global pandemic of coronavirus, many groups had to be held using online platforms. The new, unfamiliar restrictions proved challenging for a community which thrives on its sense of face-to-face community. Overall, during this difficult time, the staff and volunteers kept contact with many building stronger, personal relationships through more individual tailored contact. As restrictions eased in 2021, smaller in person groups were held in TCC for a short time until a local spike pushed the groups back online.
In early 2022, all groups began meeting in the TCC once again and normality was welcomed.