Healthy Valleys looks towards a brighter future at Lockhart

Learning to cook for the family is just one service Healthy Valleys offers
Learning to cook for the family is just one service Healthy Valleys offers

Moving is an exciting time, whether you’re switching homes or updating your offices.

For Healthy Valleys, the local community-led health initiative, a move from community flats in Rigside’s Stuart Terrace to the Lockhart Community Hub in Lanark is a big deal.

The move, which is expected to happen in just a few weeks, will see the organisation have a physical base to work from and space to hold training and support sessions for the first time in its 14-year history.

It will also see the team work alongside community health professionals such as psychiatric nurses and occupational therapists, in the same building.

It’s a move that came about due to the council’s decision to demolish the Rigside building and NHS Lanarkshire’s plans to bring new services to Lockhart.

Lesley McCranor, Healthy Valleys’ executive manager, said: “This is a good move and a good thing.

“We are not trying to replace what’s there, this is a new service that will benefit Lanark and the surrounding areas.

“It will also be for a period of time that will be determined by the NHS.

“But this is a good next step for us as we look to a brighter future.

“At Rigside, we only had office space but at the Lockhart Community Hub we will have training areas where people can enhance their skills.

“It will also be more accessible for people to come together and we’ll be working with health care professionals from the social care partnership.

“It will also be a place for our volunteers to come together, train and meet people.

“We have never had that before.

“We will also still be continuing to deliver everything we already do.

“But there are still challenges for us and they are similar to the challenges facing many other organisations in the voluntary sector.”

The need for a facility like this seems to have come at the right time.

The charity said it was “saturated with referrals” which were increasing each day, some of which are of a more complex nature.

Referrals to Healthy Valleys’ many projects are growing and coming from a variety of different sources.

This includes local GPs, community nurses and from individuals themselves.

It offers eight core projects helping youngsters, adults and the elderly struggling with everything from loneliness and mental health problems to adopting a healthy lifestyle or learning how to cook.

Lesley said: “We are experiencing an increase in the number of referrals and demand for our services.

“Austerity measures means that families who were already in difficulty are now facing even more problems and it is having an impact on their health.

“The complexity of their needs is much more challenging.

“They may be facing emotional or financial issues or dealing with addiction while living in supported accommodation.

“They are looking for a way to change the situation they are in and they are coming to us.

“This is all happening at a time when we are not always receiving adequate funding levels. But we hope to secure continued funding for our Community Health Matters project which is exceeding its targets.”

Community Health Matters provides one-to-one support and signposting to young people and adults experiencing emotional issues and mental health problems.

In the past year, Healthy Valleys said the project supported 90 individuals including 53 who received intensive one-to-one support to build their confidence and self manage their health and well-being.

It involved 487 volunteer hours and community support delivered at local community hubs in Coalburn and Douglas.

The task ahead for Healthy Valleys involves looking for more funding and support.

“It’s like a hamster wheel,” added Lesley.

“You go round and round looking for funding.

“However, we will continue to develop the partnerships we have with the Scottish Government, the NHS and South Lanarkshire Council and others.”