Cornerstone House Centre is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, and is marking the occasion by sharing memories and extending thanks to all staff, volunteers, partners and funders past and present who have helped the organisation make a positive impact in the Cumbernauld locality area.
Registered as a charity in September 2010, the organisation was formed a social enterprise to serve and support the Cumbernauld community under one roof, initially undertaking this through the operation of a leased facility in Cumbernauld town centre.
Over the intervening years, it has developed into an established, highly regarded Community Anchor Organisation with a proven track record of helping communities flourish, providing quality services and facilities, supporting local citizens to be healthier and happier and assisting Cumbernauld to thrive socially and culturally.
Since its early days as an organisation focussed on community development, Cornerstone House Centre has consistently searched for new openings to invest positively in the people it serves in Cumbernauld.
As such, in 2019, with the backing of Scottish Land Fund, the organisation recorded its biggest achievement to date by finalising the purchase of its significant community asset at 1 Esk Walk, Town Centre, Cumbernauld, G67 1BZ. This now operates as a fully community-owned building customised to meet the needs of the people of Cumbernauld.
In recent years, the progress of the organisation has accelerated such that hundreds of children, parents, older people, unemployed people, people experiencing poverty, socially isolated people and people with health issues and disabilities have come to rely heavily on services operated by Cornerstone House Centre every day, week or month. Mary McNeil, who has been Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre for the past decade, said:
“It really has been a fantastic and uplifting journey that Cornerstone House Centre has been on over the last 10 years.
“In the organisation’s 10th anniversary month, it’s great to take time to reflect on its journey from relatively small beginnings and minimal resources back in 2010.
“Although because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we can’t invite the local community to celebrate this milestone with us in person as we would have liked, we very much want to take this opportunity to thank those individuals, organisations, service users and supporters who have helped the charity accomplish what it has.
“The organisation has provided a raft of diverse and valuable community services and positively influenced the lives of thousands since its establishment. This would not have been possible without the kindness and support of a many of people and groups.
“In particular, I would like to say a big thank you to all of our charity trustees, who as volunteers have brought great leadership and strategic direction to the organisation over a period of longevity.
“Equally, I want to recognise the outstanding contribution of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, a community church tenant which was instrumental in the foundation of Cornerstone House Centre and the refurbishment and maintenance of its community building.
“Another sincere thank you goes to Campsies Centre Cumbernauld Ltd, who showed faith and invested in the charity from an early stage. Their support has been critical to the organisation’s growth.
“Despite the unprecedented challenges of 2020, Cornerstone House Centre is optimistic about the future and looking forward to continuing to work with the people of Cumbernauld in co-producing community interventions, services and solutions over the coming years.
“The organisation is particularly proud of the strong relationship it has developed with the local community since its inception. Indeed, amongst its central organisational values are being people-centric, helping, compassionate, innovative, collaborative and outcome-focussed.”
So, as we acknowledge this special landmark for Cornerstone House Centre, why not join us for the ride as we reflect in the below synopsis on the organisation’s history, evolution, highlights and achievements.
REFLECTING ON CORNERSTONE HOUSE CENTRE’S AMAZING 10-YEAR JOURNEY
The Early Years: From a Seed of Potential to a Managing a Popular Community Hub
Prior to 2010, Cornerstone House Centre’s community-owned facility looked significantly different to how it does now. The former bingo hall had become a derelict building until Cornerstone Christian Fellowship took up tenancy in the late noughties.
At the turn of the decade, a group of church members and local citizens recognised that the large, spacious building had great potential as a valuable resource which could benefit multiple communities and organisations.
It was from this vision that Cornerstone House Centre was founded as a charity. Its primary purpose in those early days was to manage and develop the venue as a place in which the people of Cumbernauld could utilise for meetings, pursuing interests, sharing experiences, learning together, doing business, supporting children and families and generally for good causes.
Over a period of time, the facility was successfully transformed into a modern, multi-purpose community hub. This attracted the tenancy of a number of public, third and private sector agencies, many of whom were drawn by the building’s central location in Cumbernauld and the quality of facilities available to hire.
One of the first tenants was Cornerstone Café, a popular café enterprise which has been a mainstay and important feature of Cornerstone House for over 10 years. It serves breakfasts, lunches, refreshments, snacks and takeaways six days per week (although the number of opening days is currently reduced due to COVID-19).
The largest amenity in Cornerstone House is an adaptable Conference Hall which can be accessed for various purposes including training, meetings, fairs, community events, trading and much more.
The Centre also contains a modern ICT and Soft Skills Suite, several large and small meeting rooms suitable for one-to-one meetings, group meetings and weekly activities, and office facilities which can be employed as a permanent or outreach base for local organisations.
Since Cornerstone House was opened to the public, the popularity of the facility has increased year on year. In 2019, there were more than 40,000 individual visits to the building. As well as Cornerstone Christian Fellowship and Cornerstone Café, longstanding tenants include Bethlehem House of Bread Food Bank, Slimming World, Drop In Café, Cumbernauld Traditional Taekwondo Association and Cumbernauld Gaelic Choir.
For many years, the income generated from regular room bookings has enabled Cornerstone House Centre to operate self-sufficiently as a social enterprise. All profits are reinvested in maintaining and operating the building for community good.
An Organisation Taking Strides Forward: Becoming an Innovative Service Provider
As the years progressed and Cornerstone House became an increasingly important community venue in Cumbernauld, Cornerstone House Centre began to develop a niche role for itself as an influential service-providing charity in the local area.
Whilst a number of services were already being provided by external organisations hiring facilities, it became apparent that with its substantial overarching connections to several local groups, citizens and resources, there was no better placed organisation than Cornerstone House Centre itself to develop new projects and activities.
One such early initiative was Cornerstone Arts and Crafts Group, which was facilitated by The Centre weekly to enable people of all ages and abilities to participate in arts and crafts activities in an informal and supportive environment.
Over the years, local unemployed people have benefited from of a catalogue of bespoke employability supports provided by Cornerstone House Centre.
The organisation recognised that a high number of individuals seeking employment were visitors to its premises on a daily basis for a variety of purposes. As a result, Cornerstone House Centre implemented a highly productive enterprise of offering free and informal employability guidance and resources, including CV support, personal development training, signposting, one-to-one employability support and internet access for job search.
Another successful programme delivered by The Centre was Healthy Eating on a Budget (HEB), which throughout 2016 provided a free and unique opportunity for parents and carers of children aged 0-8 to learn about healthy and affordable eating and nutrition. An improvement in participant family health was noted as a key outcome of this activity.
In 2017, with the support of The National Lottery Community Fund, the organisation launched Cumbenauld Family Hub, its most ambitious and innovative project to date. Since then, this has provided a range of targeted supports and interventions to 493 local families, most notably those affected by inequalities, poverty and disadvantage.
As part of Cumbernauld Family Hub, term-time and school holiday blocks of weekly Bookbug and Stay and Play Sessions have been extremely popular at Cornerstone House, as has free monthly book gifting for local families through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Another impactful provision has been the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)-based personal development programme Living Life to the Full, which has helped hundreds of local parents and family members improve their mental health.
Last year saw Cornerstone House Centre launch a groundbreaking new Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub on behalf of Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire. This has provided valuable health campaign information, seminars and signposting for a range of individuals and groups, including older people, carers, parents and guardians, people with disabilities and long term conditions, people facing mental health challenges and people on lower incomes.
In the past twelve months, the organisation has also hosted a programme of successful Cornerstone Community Tea Dances, delivered a progressive Shopmobility pilot scheme for Cumbernauld town centre and coordinated a calendar of free school holiday activities for local children and families.
Collectively, the services of Cornerstone House Centre have initiated significantly positive outcomes for high numbers of individuals and families in terms of personal and skills development, health and wellbeing, parent-child bonding, life balance, recovery and employability. In this respect, the organisation is proud of its service-providing portfolio and history.
Expanding Its Sphere of Influence: Flourishing as a Community Anchor Organisation
The latest exciting phase currently being developed by Cornerstone House Centre is its role as a Community Anchor Organisation for the Greater Cumbernauld area.
As such, the organisation in 2020 announced the launch of Cumbernauld CAN (Community Anchor Network), a new initiative supported by Scottish Government which aims to develop the connected capacity of the local area.
The project strives to enable Cumbernauld residents and organisations to work together to become better at responding to local needs. A key element of Cumbernauld CAN involves developing Participatory Budgeting (PB) opportunities for local groups and citizens, as exemplified through the distribution of Small Grants PB Fund Round 1 in April 2020.
Meanwhile, The Centre’s community anchorage has been strengthened 8by the opening of a brand new free Community Space facility for the people of Cumbernauld, launched in partnership with Antonine Shopping Centre with a view to improving health and wellbeing in the Cumbernauld area. Located at Unit 14 of Antonine Shopping Centre, The Community Space incorporates a designated Ping Pong Parlour and Light Bites Station.
In recent times, Cornerstone House Centre has played a crucial role in helping local communities respond to and recover from the coronavirus pandemic. This was demonstrated through Cumbernauld GIVES (Grants Initiative for Virus Emergency Scheme), where the organisation facilitated dispersal of £72,000 public funds to frontline community and voluntary groups operating in Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and the Northern Corridor.
Furthermore, during the pandemic Cumbernauld CHaT (Community Help and Talk) Service has provided a first-stop shop telephone helpline, open from 9am-9pm every day, and email support service for anyone living in Greater Cumbernauld in need of advice, guidance, signposting, social contact or practical assistance as a result of COVID-19.
The importance of the organisation’s community anchor role has also been underlined through the launch of a new interactive organisational website, increased community reach through social media channels and becoming a local distribution site for Healthy Start Vitamins on behalf of NHS Lanarkshire.
As you can see, it certainly has been a decade of innovation and building something positive at Cornerstone House Centre. Thanks to all those who have been and continue to be part of it; the organisation is grateful for the ongoing support of the Cumbernauld community.
To further celebrate 10 years of Cornerstone House Centre, some fun photographic memories and highlights will be posted on the organisation’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms over the coming weeks.
If you have any Cornerstone House Centre memories or stories you would like to share, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on social media at #10YearsOfCornerstoneCHC.