A BARRHEAD community hub has been given a facelift.

The opening of a new cafe space within the Voluntary Action East Renfrewshire (VAER) building in the town’s Kelburn Street saw the relaunch of the charity’s Project Market Place.

Previously part of an office space, the Project Market Place now boasts a shopfront look that staff and volunteers hope will entice people in.

As well as cups of coffee and tea, goods made by the many groups based at VAER are also on sale.

Anne Kidd, CEO of VAER, said this is just the start of their work but they are already getting positive feedback from those who use the hub.

She said: “This is really a change of focus for the organisation.

“We have done a lot of talking to folk with a view to analysing this and finding out what people need.

“We’re now inviting people to have a blether and address the big societal issue at the moment, which is loneliness.

“We might be the only person that someone speaks to all day, or even all week, so it’s important that they get the chance to come in, even just for a chat.”

The charity was awarded £400,000 of grant funding earlier this year and is now starting to put its ambitious plans into action.

Relaunching Project Market Place was a huge task for the charity, with a large team of dedicated staff and volunteers on hand to ensure that the new multi-use facility was fully revamped.

Now fully kitted-out with a community cafe and book shop, this has created a central hub for people to congregate and share each other’s company.

The book shop alone houses thousands of books which have now been catalogued and organised by a dedicated VAER volunteer.

The revamp has also opened up doors for the charity and its staff to offer new projects and services from the Kelburn Street base.

As well as the launch of the cafe, there will be an expansion of VAER’s services over the coming months.

A new craft club for adults has already launched over the past fortnight, with plans also in place to start a baking group with the aim of sharing recipes and eventually making goods to sell in the newly-opened cafe.

Francesca McKay, community hub development worker at VAER, said: “We are just looking at expanding on the groups we already have.

“This has made such a difference and it is just a much better use of what we have.

“The way that the building looks now to people passing outside is much more attractive and appealing.

“The feedback has been amazing. People are really loving the feeling of belonging in the new-look space.”

Despite the space’s grand unveiling, this makeover is just the beginning of a wider project for VAER.

The charity is now in the early stages of a new initiative to tackle loneliness, dubbed ‘Tomorrow’s Older People Today,’ which the new-look Project Market Place will play a big part in.

With the makeover complete, there are, as always, lots of opportunities to get involved with various groups based at the VAER hub.

For more information on these, visit www.va-er.org.uk/thrive-connect/project-market-place.