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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Working together to transform our community


Lindsay Banks on the work of the Newton Stewart Initiative

Newton Stewart Initiative (NSI) is a community organisation with charitable status, reformed in February 2014 to regenerate the town, involving as many people and groups as possible.

NSI aims to develop community facilities, support community-led initiatives, business and regeneration projects, youth, arts and sports projects, and any other project that benefits the community living and working in and around Newton Stewart.

Since its recovery in 2014 NSI now has a robust, multi-skilled board fully committed to the development of Newton Stewart and surrounding areas. The organisation has made significant progress towards sustainability while at the same time introducing services for the community and being the catalyst for the development of community facilities.

The last year has seen huge changes for NSI and the work we do. Taking on two buildings on the high street, employing part time youth workers and developing our youth work services and activities, taking over the lease of Douglas Park, a Changing Places toilet still to be built and working on the Local Place Plan for the town.

Behind the scenes we have also been keeping the Newton website up to date with events, activities and services in the town, organising pop up markets, a green fayre, launching a here to help fayre and planning amazing summer events for families and young people in town.

None of this would be possible without funding and the community. We rely heavily on volunteers to not only run NSI but to run our community shop and help out at events throughout the year.

Our trustees are extremely involved in all of the projects and without their time and effort, which they give freely, none of these projects would be possible.

Grapes Hotel

Working with Collective Architecture, SOSCH and Community Enterprise our plan is to convert the downstairs into a larger community shop as we have outgrown the smaller building on Dashwood Square. The upstairs we are looking at turning into affordable accommodation. Community Enterprise will be conducting surveys to find out what residents would like to see and the support for this.

Vibe 75

It is nearly a year since we signed a five year lease on Vibe 75. Janette and Angus had run Cinnamon Café for over 20 years and wanted the building to be kept for community use. Over the last year the downstairs has been painted and decorated, a new sign put outside, shutters painted and groups have been using the downstairs space for a variety of activities, from dog training to guy making. Our vision is to turn the downstairs into a community hub and the upstairs into a dedicated youthwork space. We have been busy creating a strong and solid business plan for Vibe 75 in order to apply for funding to help us with this.

Changing Places toilet

This has taken longer than we initially thought, however we are nearly, nearly there. A sewage and water connection needs to be put in place and then the groundworks can begin. Hopefully from beginning to end it should only take 12 weeks.

Local Place Plan

Work began on the Local Place Plan in February 2023. Initial surveys were created, drop ins, more surveys and more surveys. Working together with Dumfries and Galloway Council, Cree Valley Area Development Trust and Cree Valley Community Council the plan has now been drawn up and has been sent to local councils and councillors for consultation. The Local Place Plan is for the residents of the town and any group or organisation can use this as support for funding applications. It will be submitted to D&G Council to form part of its LDP4 for the town.

Old town hall

We currently have a CAT Stage 2 application in for the town hall. Our plan is to utilise the largest room as an office space for NSI so we can have a presence on the high street and to use the smaller room as a drop in for tourists and residents to find out what is going on in the town, a local jobs board, volunteering opportunities etc. We are currently drafting a business plan for D&G Council to submit alongside our application.

Lindsay Banks is project support worker for Newton Stewart Initiative.



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