One of Stornoway’s landmark buildings for young people is under threat of closure, with supporters launching an appeal today (Tuesday December 4th) to ‘Heal our Hall’.
The unassuming building of the Scout and Guide Hall on Keith Street has provided decades of activity and safe space for young people in the Scout and Guide movements and beyond. Up to 220 youngsters still use the hall every week, but its physical condition is fast deteriorating and needs urgent refurbishment.
Joint district commissioner Jane Bain told welovestornoway.com: “The truth is, it’s falling apart. Since the heavy rains this autumn we have had a leak in the roof which means the ceiling is in danger of falling in in one of the rooms. Although insurance cover will allow us to fix the leak, it’s like putting a sticking plaster over it – the whole roof needs replacing.
“Stornoway Port Authority generously donated £13,000 in 2017, allowing us to replace windows and doors and to do some work on the external paving around the hall, but that is just the start.
“We have not yet fully costed what the works will need, but we have a list of essential works that need doing including a new roof, weather-proofing the exterior, insulation because it’s freezing in winter and a new heating system to replace the existing one, which is ancient.
“Then we have a list of what we are calling ‘luxuries’ – they include decorating, enlarging the kitchen and installing internet connection, which is becoming essential for youth activities.”
Some of the luxuries are also really essential – the kitchen of the Scout Hall, although fairly modern, is not large enough for the future needs of childcare providers, and Stornoway playgroup is one of the hall’s regular users. Without a kitchen extension, they may not be able to meet there – making the playgroup homeless and leaving the Scout Hall without a regular income stream.
District Commissioner Jane Bain said: “At the moment the hall is used every weeknight by five Guides sections – Rainbows, two Brownie groups, Guides and senior Guides – and by five Scouts groups – Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Explorers and the Network for 18-26-year-olds.
“It’s also used at weekends for training and sleepovers and during weekdays in term-time by Stornoway Playgroup. All these groups deserve somewhere warm, clean, safe and well-equipped where they can enjoy these group activities and there is no community hall in Stornoway which does the job.”
Yesterday (Tuesday) a Crowdfunder page has been launched at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/heal-our-hall to start the essential work of fundraising a target of £25,000 to ‘Heal our Hall’.
The town centre store, Iceland has offered two days of bag-packing slots on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th December and Scout leader John Moffat is to take on a sponsored climb up Ben Nevis in the New Year.
Jane said: “We will be planning lots of fundraising activities in 2019, but we’re really hoping that businesses connected to the Scouts, Guides or Playgroup might have a particular interest in supporting us – with cash donations or with in-kind offers of materials or labour.
“So many people in Stornoway went through Scouts and Guides, or came here for a club or disco in their childhood. It’s always been part of the community and if we do nothing it will probably fall down. Certainly it would have to close and that would be a great loss to the town.”
You can contact Joint District Commissioner (junior sections and hall) Jane Bain via the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Scoutandguidehall/
The pictures show the Scout and Guide Hall in use and set up for Stornoway Playgroup, and the damage to the roof from heavy rain this year. (Stornoway Scout and Guide Hall).