25th February, 2010

So what 's been happening since I last wrote... Well, on Tuesday I went to the Newbiz10 conference in Perth. It had a particular emphasis on social enterprises this year - definition of Social Enterprise: "a business with primarily social objectives which uses its profit to reinvest in the business or in the community, rather than making money for shareholders".  Another definition would be a charitable or not-for-profit business. In many ways the Centre fits that description as we don't rely solely on donations to keep going and keep serving our target groups in training, enabling and refreshing, so we are a business as well as a charity and can learn a lot from this newly coined category to help us serve people better. There were inspiring talks from people who had set up their own small businesses and then seminars on Social Enterprises and E-marketing - really useful stuff. There were also plenty of opportunities to "network" i.e. talk to other people in the same boat, share experiences & maybe discover you can help each other.

 This weekend Morningside Alpha are coming (hopefully the snow won't be a problem) and during the week we've had our usual lot of day groups with enquiries from more. The girls from "Food for Thought" have settled into the kitchen about 3 days a week - makes your mouth water - and Clement from France has now gone home, richer for his Scottish experience. We asked him what he had learnt & he said "a lot about Scottish history".Well, we did take him to a display at Perth museum all about the 5th centenary of the founding of the City of Perth and he managed to do a day trip to Edinburgh , doing the city trip and taking in the castle and the Royal Yacht as well as other things. Oh and he had a day - or was it 2 - at the farm of a family who've been living there for 5 generations - I think - a couple of hundred years or so anyway. He made a lovely job of painting the flat (so if you're staying there it's lovely and fresh) and was able to second Chris to get scaffolding up in the kitchen and give the fans a good clean and that part of the ceiling a fresh coat of paint. He was really welcomed by the church folk going to both house groups and the football and being invited to lots of homes for his tea and it was good to feel the church support in looking after him and making him feel at home. We continue to support the church by having their children's and youth work in the Centre every Sunday and various church groups in during the week. Last week in the dining room was the funeral tea for Mary MacDonald, who died aged 87 and whose funeral was a testimony to a life of faithful service both abroad in India and Pakistan and at home through Girl Crusaders.

Through emails we're being encouraged to display our green credentials, so you'll be pleased to know we've been composting our kitchen waste for some time now and now have a rich compost which Chris is using to make a small herb patch for the kitchen (Bob the chef will be pleased!). Perth & Kinross have now introduced a new recycling scheme, so we'll be saved a few trips to the recycling Centre as more will be collected by the bin men. Progress on the new boiler is still slow at this stage, but we're looking forward to our new heating and hot water system which will vastly reduce our carbon footprint. Did you know the waste from the new boiler (woodash) can be used as fertiliser? If you want to know more about the boiler or how we got help to find a greener solution to our energy needs please email us - we're happy to help.

5th February, 2010

2010 and I'm getting round to the blog again at last. Sorry for the delay. Happy New Year! Well, Christmas was quiet with a few families self catering at the Centre and most of our day groups off for the holidays - not the church of course - that would be weird. Now we're well and truly into the new year and have had a few residential groups in. Reality Scotland training (teenagers) had a great week last week. They did a huge walk to Killiekrankie - makes you jealous they're so fit - and have enjoyed lots of other outdoors activities.This week it's ministers'  in-service training (if that's not a pun). I think they'll mostly be stretching their brains rather than their muscles - not that the two are mutually exclusive. Teaching English as a foreign language has started up again and adult literacy, mental health and other regular day groups. Last week Perth & Kinross Council's adult learning had an open day in the Centre dining room with various activities on display from wii sports and dance mats to photography and family trees. The church supported this by providing soup and sandwiches, so it was a successful excercise in teamwork which was rewarded with a lot of interested visitors. Talking about co-operation, a local deli is using our kitchen to prepare their food 3 days a week at the moment, which is added income for us when we are not using it all the time and when we have got small groups they prepare food for us as well. Our newest arrival is Clement from France who is volunteering at the Centre for 3 weeks and hoping to improve his English in the process. He was able to get a slot in the English teaching lessons, so was very pleased and has already gone to church football and survived to tell the tale.
The quest for a new boiler is progressing - rather more slowly than we had hoped - but it was the tortoise who won the race in the end, so not to worry. Initial sketches have gone to planning and then they tell us what to do next. It may take some time to process, but it will be great when it all comes through. Meanwhile we're busy fundraising to cover the cost. Any ideas from you? Actually I'm looking back and wondering how much I've told you about that...not a lot on a quick scan. OK, so our  gas boiler is very inefficient and very old so we think "let's get a new one". When we start asking we find out that not only can we get a much greener boiler if we go renewable biofuel, reducing our carbon footprint to use jargonese, and generally being more responsable with our planet, but we can also get a lot of government help on this. After a lot of investigation and meeting with very helpful people we have decided on a wood pellet boiler supplemented by solar panels for the hot water. So now we need to get everybody's agreement to go ahead and everybody's money as well, since it's not cheap. Good news is that we are already likely to get a sizeable grant towards it, so now we need to raise the other 10 - 15K from other places.