IT has taken 11 years of combined community effort.

But now locals have opened the doors to their new £1.5million residents centre and are busy making it the heart of Barmulloch.

Barmulloch Community Development Company (BCDC) has seven areas they want to tackle to boost the north Glasgow area.

And they plan to use the new residents centre to do it.

Jim Hope, development officer with BCDC, said: "We have ambitious plans now for our centre, looking at employment, social programmes, creativity and enterprise, youth development, health and wellbeing, education and training, and sport.

"The area has suffered a lot in terms of cut backs and this has affected peoples' confidence.

"There is not a great pride of place and if you don't have pride in the area then apathy sets in.

"We want people to realise they are important and this hall has been built to raise their expectations and hopes."

There has been a residents centre in the area since 1957 when housing schemes sprang up in the north Glasgow area.

Locals were given a plot of land from the council and built the Barmulloch Tenants and Resident Association Hall with their own hands.

But in 2004 the hall was becoming dilapidated and it was decided the community deserved better facilities.

The first plans for Barmulloch Residents Centre were put forward in 2007 by the 13-strong board of BDCD.

Jim said: "The spec was set down by the board and one thing they wanted was to have the 'wow' factor because the area had suffered so badly from cuts and the facilities were so poor.

"It wasn't easy to get the project off the ground - we suffered set backs but it was incumbent on us to see the project through."

The new building, on Quarrywood Road, cost more than £1.5m with funding secured from Big Lottery Growing Community Assets Grant of £1,075,000.

The Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF) gave £350,000, investment by the Scottish Ministers in the Allia Charitable Bond brought in £128,000, GHA donated £100,000 and the Robertson Trust gave £20,000.

The new premises includes two large halls, an IT suite, three office/meeting rooms, kitchen and a sound proofed studio.

Jim said: "It was absolutely incredible seeing the building come together. It was a gradual thing.

"We were there when the bricks were laid and there when the foundations were made and there as it progressed.

"When we opened the door to the public, that was the really amazing thing.

"Watching the public come in through the front door and seeing their faces - 100 per cent were impressed out of the more than 200 families we had come for a tour.

"The main feedback is that the place is beautiful and fantastic but what they were all saying was we need a place like this because the previous hall was used for weddings, christenings, engagement parties and funerals.

"Now everybody is saying, 'We want to do this with this building.'"

Jim said the team running the hall has grand plans for it.

Theatre company Toonspeak has been the first to move in, renting the top floor of the building.

As told last month in the Evening Times, the centre provided a rehearsal space for the company's musical Ma Bit, which they performed at the Tron Theatre as part of the Merchant City Festival.

Paula Morgan, from Toonspeak, said: "Toonspeak was approached by Barmulloch Community Development Company (BCDC) as they were looking for a tenant for the new community centre and we are now at a stage where we need bigger premises as we are attracting so many young people.

"Barmulloch is an area we already work in but we are really keen to develop more there and think we can offer the young people so much.

"The centre offers a lot more space meaning we have capacity to work with even more young people and it can also be opened up for us to use it for performances, which will be fantastic.

"We will be very sad to leave our home in Royston, where we are part of the community, but we will still be working with young people in that area.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for us and we are excited to meet all the other groups who will be using the centre too."

Some of the activities will remain in the residents centre and others will move to other premises BCDC hopes to take over.

Two volunteers have run a parent and toddlers group for the past 26 years and BCDC has plans to expand this into a Create N Play group.

There is also a boxing club, two carers groups, line dancing, children's arts and crafts and a cafe club as well as table tennis, athletics, slimming club, bingo and the largest Alcoholics Anonymous group in Glasgow.

Jim added: "There is a lot to be done to improve the place.

"Barmulloch has one of the highest rates of diabetes and heart disease in Glasgow, a high number of single parent households and one in four people are economically inactive.

"What we are trying to do with the residents centre is to effect a change in health and wellbeing from the bottom up, as top down initiatives are not as successful.

"We're in the community for the community and we have hope for the future as we see the centre grow.

"We have a lot of problems in Barmulloch but a lot of good and a lot of people with talent."

*Barmulloch Residents Centre is hosting a fun day on August 12 for local families.

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