Sport, recreation, arts, heritage and library services in Falkirk district are positively booming.
That much is clear from the latest annual report published by Falkirk Community Trust (FCT) which shows attendances, admissions and health and fitness income are all at a five-year high.
One of the standout figures, however, falls under the volunteer engagement category where the number of people offering their spare time to support the organisation has more than quadrupled since 2013/14.
With just shy of 4 million (3,958,000) entering through the doors of FCT-run facilities in 2017/18, up from 2,885,000 half a decade ago, a record 2208 individuals willingly lent a hand — free of charge — to help out. Five years ago, FCT had just over 500 volunteers.
The amount of young people who used or got involved with its services in the past year will be viewed as another major positive by Trust bosses.
Records revealed there were 962,000 admissions by young people — up from 797,000 in 2013/14.
There was also a rise in admissions to paid activities for concessions (125,000) when compared to five years previously (121,000).
The money being made by FCT from those paying to use its facilities and services also increased — for the fourth year on the bounce — with customer income standing at £6.74 million. Of that amount, £1.49 million derived from health and fitness.
There were several highlights for FCT over the past 12 months, including: a 21 per cent jump in the number of Active Schools sessions laid on for young people (274,000); a 43 per cent increase in activities and events taking place in the region’s libraries (1517); over £1 million of successful bids made to competitive grand funders; and the highest-ever number of admissions to its gyms (up by 8.5 per cent overall).
FCT chairwoman Ruth Morrison praised the contribution of those who work and volunteer for the organisation for making it all possible.
She said: “Services are vitally important and it is the Trust’s employees that create the excellent service experience.
“Attendance over the year reached a high of nearly 4 million and that was despite the challenges of the Beast from the East in the early part of 2018.
“During that disruption many staff made supreme efforts to keep services going, for example making their way through deep snow drifts to tend to the livestock in Muiravonside Country Park and supporting social work services to help elderly people living near our venues.
“We also have over 2000 volunteers to assist us and always welcome more.
“Our teams deliver services that affect the quality of life not only of the people who live here but also of those who visit the area.
“Sometimes this involves going above and beyond routine service delivery, and I would like to praise the excellent response by staff on a few specific occasions this year when professional levels of care were provided ahead of paramedics arriving when customers have taken seriously ill.”
The Trust’s annual report showed it generated £19.01 million in income for the year to March 31, of which £11.43 million (60 per cent) came via funding from Falkirk Council, which established the organisation in 2011.
Aside from its £6.74 million customer income (35 per cent), the remainder of the funding came from fundraising (3 per cent) and grants (2 per cent).
The majority of the £18.98 million FCT spent in 2017/18 was allocated to sport (£5.87 million), while the next biggest beneficiaries were libraries (£2.29 million) and arts (£1.89 million).
Ms Morrison added: “We have much work to do and a big focus in 2018 is looking at our business strategy for the next five years.
“Inevitably we need to do this against a backdrop of diminishing resources but our approach, which includes playing more of a leading and facilitating role with the community, is to protect core culture and sport services for the area.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in supporting the work of the Trust, it could not happen without the support of our funders and partners, our management team, staff and volunteers.”