Published 31 May 2019
Levengrove’s new Pavillion Café and Training suite was officially opened this week as part of a £3.7million investment in the park.
The venue is being run as a social enterprise by West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Partnership’s (WDHSCP) Work Connect service.
It offers training places for some of West Dunbartonshire’s most vulnerable residents, including those with mental health issues, people in recovery from addictions and those with learning disabilities.
The space has become a firm favourite among residents since opening its doors to the public in February.
The enhanced training suite provides a range of different learning experiences as well as being available for community use.
Today (Thursday), invited guests and Councillors gathered in Levengrove Park to officially mark the opening of the restored park and the launch of the two facilities.
Councillor Iain McLaren, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “I am delighted to be here today to officially open such a wonderful and worthwhile project. I have watched the Pavillion project progress with such interest and excitement. Today, I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the benefits it is not only bringing to residents who make use of the café, but to the people who are undergoing training in the café and learning suite and gaining vital skills which will last them a lifetime.
“The addition of the café and training suite has already seen increased numbers making use of the park meaning the economic benefits for West Dunbartonshire are already evident.
“Congratulations to everybody involved in delivering this project and for those still involved in successfully running such a vital resource.”
Councillor Marie McNair, Vice Convener of Infrastructure Regeneration and Economic Development, as well as Vice Chair of West Dunbartonshire’s Health and Social Partnership, added: “Work Connect does a hugely important job by giving some of West Dunbartonshire’s most vulnerable people a chance to move forward, learn practical employability skills and grow their confidence.
“West Dunbartonshire has one of the highest unemployment rates in Scotland, particularly among disadvantaged groups like those with long-term complex mental health issues, learning difficulties and people recovering from addiction. Giving them the tools to get themselves back into the workplace allows these marginalised groups to realise their full potential.”
The project was born in 2014, with a joint application by West Dunbartonshire Council and WDHSCP to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund for money to reinstate the park’s heritage features, including building a brand new pavilion and extending the services of the training suite.
The bid was successful in gaining £2.8million of National Lottery money, which was added to Council funding.
Riona McMorrow, Acting Head of The National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland, said:
“Just a few years ago, Levengrove Park was in decline and its rich and varied heritage was at serious risk of being lost. National Lottery investment has now revitalised this much-loved Dumbarton treasure that for almost 135 years has supported the well-being of its local people - connecting them with nature, getting them active and providing an escape from the bustle of daily life.”
The training suite offers learning through the Levengrove Horticulture Service in gardening and greenhouse skills as well as SQA qualifications.
While staff members employed at the Cafe are trained in specific catering skills, including customer service, food hygiene and barista training.
They also gain culinary skills as they prepare the food for sale in the café.
Other benefits to the trainees include long-lasting and transferable employability skills like confidence, time-keeping and team work.
The scheme is popular with over 100 participants taking part each week.
There are now plans to further increase the scope of the cafe, with ideas including a takeaway truck and the introduction of a loyalty card scheme for returning customers being considered.