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Networks of Wellbeing secure new home in Huntly

By Pat Scott

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PLANS for Networks of Wellbeing (NoW) to move to new, central premises have taken a major step forward.

Fiona Alderson, Sandra Brantingham, chairwoman of the NoW board and Fi Thomson outside their new home. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Fiona Alderson, Sandra Brantingham, chairwoman of the NoW board and Fi Thomson outside their new home. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

The group agreed an asset transfer with Aberdeenshire Council of the former janitor house on West Park Street in 2019 but the process ground to a halt when the pandemic struck.

The keys have now been handed over to NoW - revealing the full extent of the work needed to turn the property into a central base for its mental health and wellbeing activities.

The building has been vacant since 2016 and requires a substantial amount of work before it can be brought into use.

There has been damage caused by burst pipes and extensive painting and re-flooring is required.

Existing conservatories will accommodate meeting and activities areas, and smaller spaces where one to one sessions can be held will be created by consolidating toilet provision.

It is hoped that existing kitchen units can be given a facelift and the space re-configured to create a dining area.

The huge garden area has become overgrown but two volunteers have come forward to start the tidy up process.

For manager Fiona Alderson and deputy Fi Thomson, getting the keys was crucial.

Mrs Alderson said: "It has been a very lengthy journey but we now have a 25 year lease on very attractive terms and the blank canvas of the building.

"It has been empty a long time, there has been a water leak and it's showing all the signs of a property that was well used."

An anonymous benefactor has made a substantial donation towards the renovation but the NoW board hope that local volunteers will also come froward and offer their services.

Mrs Alderson said: "People with painting experience or joinery skills would be a big help. We are also keen to hear from local tradesmen who are interested in getting the contract for the work."

The main rooms will be named after two major supporters of NoW and anyone who donates their time or materials will be named on a board at the entrance.

Mrs Alderson said: "It will be great to be more accessible and visible in the town centre. The location means we can develop closer links with the school."

Ms Thomson added:"I am excited by the fact that people will be able to just drop in for a chat, they don't have to have a mental health problem - a chat is good for people's wellbeing just to be able to speak to someone else.

"It allows us greater connectivity with other groups working in the town - on the industrial estate we are remote from them."

It is hoped that activities might move to the new base before the end of the year but that depends on the availability of contractors and materials.

Contractors interested in doing the work, volunteers willing to lend a hand or anyone with materials to donate should contact Mrs Alderson on 01466 793732 or by email to fiona@networksofwellbeing.org.

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