21st January, 2013

The first blog of 2013 and hope your new year has got off to a good start. Although the office reopened officially on the 7th Jan Iain popped in to the Centre almost daily during the holidays as we had several small groups of self catering guests over Christmas and New Year. The Centre has proved the ideal place for families who are too big to fit into the family house when they come up to share the festivities and our guests were really happy with the simplicity and comfort of it all.

Reality Scotland also had their last weekend with us in December. We're really sad that due to financial pressure they have had to wind up their charity. They had been doing such a good job and made a huge difference in children's and families lives. As well as trying to make sure all their clients are taken care of by other groups and agencies,all their workers have had to find new jobs and they have had to sell or give away their  assets.

We have benefitted from this by acquiring some of their office furniture & much of the last few  weeks has been spent emptying our reception lounge and office cupboards to move our office in there. (The Baptist ministers used the main reception area instead for  breakout groups this time and it worked well for them.) Yesterday the new furniture arrived and the room looks very smart and spacious. The next step is to move our files and computers in and clear out the old office. Then it will be free for the planned conversion to a staff bedsit. This will allow a member of staff to be in residence in the Centre without using up a guest bedroom and opens up more possibilities for B&B outwith the summer. It's very exciting to see things changing.

At the same time we have been doing a major kitchen clean & reorganisation so for a few days there was stuff everywhere. It worked out well because the snow has stopped  some elderly community groups meeting and also some where people have to travel in from more rural areas. The cooks have been snowed out for a few days as well, allowing us space to do everything we need to do in the kitchen.

January has been a quiet month residentially but we did have a minister coming to the flat for a few days retreat, benefitting from our special Christian workers retreat rates, and we had the probationary Baptist Ministers' training event here from Tuesday to Thursday last week. It was great to hear the Centre echoing with laughter and filled with animated chatter.  They gave us a lovely Thank you card, especially highlighting our "big smiles" as we served them. It was great to have you guys:)

January has also beena month of meetings as we investigate leads to help us grow. Chris and Wilma attended a cultural awareness day for serving guests from Eastern Europe, Southern Asia and China.  Iain & Anne attended a new collaborative business network meeting and had other meetings with experts specialising in social enterprises and business growth, who have both been very helpful. Our Trustees have their first board meeting of the year next week, but already various subgroups have met to keep the Centre on the move, so it's all go. Please pray for Iain and the Trustees as they work to enhance both day to day running and future growth.