Midlothian Matters - The rebuilding of a community

Plenty of fun to be had at Birkenside Fun Day
Plenty of fun to be had at Birkenside Fun Day

Birkenside is a small “scheme” of about 350 houses at the southern end of Gorebridge, writes Jim Muirhead (Birkenside Community Partnership).

Those of us who have lived there all our lives see it as a community in its own right. We don’t have many facilities in the area except a pleasant, open park with its own pavilion, one shop and a small pub.

The Birkenside Community Partnership was formed in 2002 because a lot of local people felt that we had lost the sense of community that existed when we were younger and we wanted to do something about it.

Initially we wanted to focus on something that could bring the community, young and old, together at one time, so we decided to hold a Fun Day in the park. We worked hard to raise money so that we could hire in some equipment for the day and keep it free of charge.

This is something that we have stuck to ever since to make sure that there were no financial barriers to anyone attending the event. The local pub organised a sponsored walk that first year and raised a fair amount of the cash required.

If I remember correctly it rained quite heavily that day, but everybody seemed to have a great time, so we have kept this going every August and this year will be our 15th.

When we started, the pavilion only had a very small meeting hall, which made it difficult for the older people’s clubs which met there, to have a dance or entertainment. The partnership worked with Midlothian Council and managed to obtain a £25k grant from the waste recycling network, (WREN) towards a £56k refurbishment of the pavilion. This enabled the hall to be extended and a new kitchen and disabled toilets added.

This year’s fun day will take place on August 14 thanks to the fundraising efforts of the partnership volunteers, and the donations we receive from local people and businesses. Special thanks must go to the patrons and staff at the Stobsmill Inn who this year have raised almost £1,100 for the event.

Keep an eye out for details nearer the time and note that the event is open to everyone, so feel free to come along.