Edinburgh - City Centre Location
What do you do?
We open our hall up for use by local organisations. For quite a number of years, we had been concerned about the use, or rather the non-use, of our ecclesial premises.
We are in a prime position, very near the centre of Edinburgh, with train and bus stations just up the road, and many buses stopping virtually at our door. Yet for most days of the week our rooms were unused.
There were of course some periods when they were busy - when we took part in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, or held coffee mornings, a weekly cafe or other one-off events. But when Alcoholics Anonymous approached us about holding a weekly meeting there on Saturday evenings, we were in two minds. Would we come on Sunday to be greeted by the smell of stale cigarettes and alcohol?
Their leader spoke to us about how they operate, and we were struck by the similarities to our own outlook on life (the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have more details.)
Other events are requested, as people get to know our premises. We regularly host the AGM of Edinburgh Direct Aid, and recently agreed to a request from one of the Mums who comes to our PEEP toddler groups to use a room for a breastfeeding support group. Other events have been Pilates or Yoga classes for a few weeks; the YWCA have used our premises for some of their training; and when it was our turn to accommodate the local World Day of Prayer meeting, our hall was full.
How much work is
How long has it been running?
What's the cost
We provided the various ‘Openers’, as they are called, with their own sets of keys, so they come and go
without any input from us.
Because AA hold meetings at least once every day, there is more work for the cleaner to do. Sometimes when we arrive on Sunday mornings there is a bit of tidying up to do after their Saturday meeting, which is an open meeting and can have 30 or more people attending.
AA has been coming since 2008.
AA provide their own refreshments, and often leave milk in the fridge for anyone to use. Heating and lighting are the biggest costs to us, but AA contribute towards this.
Have you had a
One potential stumbling block was our public liability insurance, which covered us for all, and
crucially only, our own events. But as AA has its own insurance, there was no valid reason to
refuse their request, and so with slight misgivings we agreed.
Are there any
Since then, we have not looked back or regretted our decision. Any fears we may have had have
not been realised; AA look after their own needs, opening up and closing themselves; (almost
always) switching off heaters and lights; and donating towards our expenses - as a registered
charity, we cannot charge anyone.
And of course no stale tobacco smell. We didn’t even need to
lock away our communion wine. What began as a once-a-week meeting has now become eight
times a week, including Christmas and New Year’s Day.
We asked the AA organiser if he wished to say anything in this report, and here’s part of his reply:
"Our experience has been incredibly positive. From fledgling beginnings so many years ago the church is now an incredibly important hub for AA in Edinburgh.
By proxy then you guys are playing a huge part in this helpful aspect for both Edinburgh and society as a whole. In addition, the space and facilities could not be better.
I reckon that’s one reason why we have become such a popular venue and the spiritual/full of love sense present in the room is frequently referred to. We have many actively sober recovering members who attended their first meeting at the church and have stayed sober ever since.
As you can imagine they have a particularly strong bond to 4 Gayfield Place [our church address.]
Need we say more?