Edinburgh church teams up with shopping centre to open community space
Published on 10 March 2023 2 minutes read
An Edinburgh church has teamed up with a shopping centre to open a new multi-functional community space to help tackle loneliness and the cost of living crisis.
Corstorphine Old Parish Church is encouraging people from all walks of life to gather in a large, bright and airy room on the upper floor of the Gyle Centre, which is open seven days a week.
The project is called Space To Be.
Community Chaplain and project leader Dr Esther Elliott said: "Space to Be is open to local groups, charities and organisations as well as individuals who want to work or catch up with friends and colleagues."
The warm and welcoming space was officially opened by Lord Provost of Edinburgh Robert Aldridge during a ceremony on Wednesday and he described it as a "hugely valuable asset to the whole community."
It has already been used for get-togethers for carers, an English language conversation group for Ukrainians and a playgroup for Ukrainian families.
On Wednesdays between 1pm-4pm, Corstorphine Old Parish Church invites people to drop in for a chat, to read a book or the paper, play a game, do a jigsaw or just sit in peace for a while.
Dr Elliott, a Workplace Chaplain, said: "Quite simply, our mission is to make West Edinburgh a better place to be.
"Over the last few weeks we have piloted opening up the Space to Be for a number of activities.
"The predominant feedback we've had is that the space has a friendly and calm vibe and that it is much needed."
Previously a Burger King restaurant, the space has views over the Pentland Hills and is divided into three zones.
There is private space at the back for meetings and group activities, a cafe-style area with comfy chairs and coffee tables for meet-ups and individual working and reception area for welcoming people and permanent or ad hoc information stands
There is clean wall space for community exhibitions, an accessible open-air balcony and storage space.
Church isn't just about Sundays
Corstorphine Old Parish Church holds the licence to manage the space as a community venture.
Minister, Rev Moira McDonald, said: "We want the Church to be seen as a place that's welcoming, open, local and available.
"This is a great project to support and illustrates that being involved in the Church isn't just about Sundays, activities are available throughout the week too."
Mr Aldridge said: "As we are emerging from COVID there are an awful lot of people around in the community who are lonely, isolated who need an excuse to be able to go somewhere to meet up with people and get out the house.
"This is a fantastic, bright welcoming space and I think it's going to be a hugely valuable asset to the whole local community."