Kevin Stewart, MSP visits Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust

In 2014 KSRHT, which is led by Allan Brown, received funding to bring empty rooms at Kilmarnock Station back into community use. Since then the station has been completely transformed, creating a community hub focused on improving the health, wellbeing and outcomes for our communities. Activities and classes on offer include mindfulness, meditation, yoga, auricular acupuncture, walking groups and electric cycle rides.

KSRHT also delivers both Cognitive Behavioural and person centred therapy with 19 counsellors providing, on average, 70 hours of counselling each week. The Trust adapted quickly to the restrictions that have been necessary throughout the pandemic and are now offering free online and telephone counselling. They work in partnership with the East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership (EAHSCP) and the NHS, accepting referrals from both GPs and mental health practitioners and self-referrals.

Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, Kevin Stewart met with Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council, Laura Yetton, Project Coordinator for the Trust’s counselling service, Craig McArthur, Director of Health and Social Care Partnership and representatives from the HSCP. They discussed the partnership work being delivered and action being taken to ensure the continuation of free at point of service counselling.

Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, Kevin Stewart said: “I am delighted to see the excellent work being done by the Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust to support mental health and wellbeing.

“Projects like these show how communities can come together and support each other, which is what we all need in these difficult times.”

Laura Yetton, Councillor Douglas Reid and John Yellowlees, Scotrail’s customer service ambassador and KSRHT trustee, led a tour of the community hub, which included the refurbished basement that has been transformed into a training bakery. With funding from the Robertson Trust, free baking classes are now being offered to women aged 18 to 24 years. There is also a counselling room and multimedia room.

They also dropped into the Active Travel Hub to meet Councillor Jim McMahon, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Roads and Transport and Community Cohesion, Kevin Braidwood, Head of the Ayrshire Roads Alliance and the Active Travel team, which is part funded by Sustrans Scotland. The team spoke about the benefit of active travel for overall health and wellbeing and its importance in tackling the climate emergency.

The final stop was to the new scale model and gaming shop within the bookshop space.

Laura Yetton said: “We have some really exciting new projects getting off the ground, which I was delighted to speak to Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, Kevin Stewart about. The scale model and gaming shop, for example, is a fantastic opportunity to generate income that can then subsidise gaming weekends. These events, which will be supported by world famous model maker Ammo by Mig, will be an opportunity to engage with young people and have important conversations around suicide awareness.”

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council said: “Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust has completely transformed the train station and I was very pleased to welcome Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, Kevin Stewart to view this important community hub in the heart of Kilmarnock.

“Partnership working has become a way of life for us in East Ayrshire and much of what we have achieved in recent times has only been possible with the involvement of a whole range of local partners. By working with KSRHT and the NHS, the East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership has been able to refer local people, facing a range of adversities, for counselling and provided them with opportunities to learn coping mechanisms like meditation. The Active Travel Hub is another great example of what can be achieved through partnership working. They run a full programme of activities and have recently restarted their Friday guided health walks.

“This visit was a great opportunity to talk to the Minister about our joint successes and what we all hope to achieve in the future. There are challenges ahead, no one doubts that, but together we are focused on helping local people overcome adversity and improving the outcomes for our communities.”