A RECENTLY launched community hub can help Helensburgh become the “kindest town in Scotland”, according to organisers.

The refurbished East Princes Street facility opened in July and hosted a celebratory event last month to mark the first anniversary of the former Red Cross hall coming into community ownership.

After the charity announced its intention to close the building, community volunteers have restored it for use as a vital meeting place, with social clubs, sewing classes, painting classes, a new youth club, Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank and a renamed book sale - called Book Nook - among the groups now regularly occupying the space.

Revealing the Helensburgh Community Hub’s theme for 2022 - Kindness Creates Connection Creates Community - development manager, Gill Simpson, said the facility has an important role to play in establishing closer ties between residents in the area.

During a presentation to members of Helensburgh Community Council, she said: “Our vision is that Helensburgh is a strong, compassionate and inclusive community and that is something that the board and I try to keep in our heads all the time when we’re thinking of how to develop the hub.

“Our values reflect that, I hope, in everything that we do.”

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Highlighting the importance of social connection and the hub’s ability to influence that in Helensburgh, Gill referenced the Roseto effect: the phenomenon by which a close-knit community experiences a reduced rate of heart disease.

Coined after a study of 1950s and 60s census data from the Pennsylvanian town, doctors at the time attributed lower death rates from heart disease in Roseto - particularly among men in high risk age groups - to lower stress levels.

Gill said: “A huge amount of research went into what the main factors or reasons for this were.

“One was the close community bonds that existed in the town - that was found to be quite a key factor in keeping people living healthily and happily.

“Our plans for next year are really about how we can create that connection and grow it within the community in Helensburgh through the use of the hub.”

The presentation followed an opening ceremony held 12 months after the community buy-out of the hub was completed.

For more information on upcoming events check out the ‘Helensburgh Community Hub’ Facebook page.