Shop boss tells Hallglen neighbours not to worry

Sonia McLay at the site of the new social enterprise shop
Sonia McLay at the site of the new social enterprise shop
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A volunteer worker, who is about to open a social enterprise shop, is assuring worried Hallglen residents it will benefit the community.

Sonia McLay (44), who has been involved in a number of social enterprises, will take ownership of an empty unit in the area’s Nairn Court in April after applying for funding to open it as a community shop and cafe.

Picture: HALLGLEN, Nairn Court, New social enterprise shop to be opened by Sonia McLay soon to benefit the community. Pictured is: Sonia McLay.

Picture: HALLGLEN, Nairn Court, New social enterprise shop to be opened by Sonia McLay soon to benefit the community. Pictured is: Sonia McLay.

She wants residents to be a part of running the business and to offer out-of-work youngsters employment opportunities.

But residents living nearby are concerned it could be a magnet for antisocial behaviour.

Sonia said: “At the last residents’ association meeting some concerns were raised and I have taken these on board.

“The general plan is to create a space that brings additional services and opportunities, creates local jobs and encourages people to be healthier, more active and with a sense of community spirit.

“It will also offer wider links to the canal, walkers, cyclists and members of the public who are keen to support local enterprise. I think it will enhance the offering between the Helix and the Falkirk wheel.

“I appreciate that Hallglen has its challenges, like any other community, but I’m happy to talk to groups or individuals who have an interest in this project.”

She went on: “I have had many positive responses to the shop and what I’m trying to do and several people have already said they are willing to come on board as members of a steering group.

“I want to shape the shop around the community’s needs and I hope this will be something the community can welcome and be part of.”

The shop/cafe will be called Fresh-futures and will sell fresh local produce, teas/coffees, bakery goods and gifts among other products. It will also have wifi.

Ms McLay sent out around 500 questionnaires and the responses from the community which showed a desire for a cafe or tearoom.

However, people living in the direct vicinity of the shop have expressed reservations.

Claire Mochan, of Hallglen and Glen Village Tenants and Residents Association, said: “It’s not that people are against the shop opening, it’s just that they don’t have enough details about it.

“Elderly residents who live there are concerned about antisocial behaviour because there was a lot of graffiti and vandalism when the previous shop was open.

“People don’t really know what kind of shop it’s going to be, what it will sell, what time it will stay open to and if it will sell alcohol or not.

“When more details are given we will be in a better position on whether to support it so we have invited Sonia along to our AGM this month to explain things more.”

For information or to get involved visit www.fresh-futures.co.uk