Albany Learning Centre Opened

December 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Features, Glasgow West, Local News

With a flourish, the Albany Learning and Conference Centre in Woodlands, was opened by Scottish Government Minister for Schools and Skills, Maureen Watt.

Anne Jarvie, Chair of Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS) which saved the listed building to create the Centre, told the audience: ‘We are rarin’ to go!’

She said: ‘This building would have been boarded up, lying unused, but now it is running events, learning and training, and is providing space which can be used by the voluntary sector and the local community.’

She praised the GCVS staff, and board for their commitment and hard work to achieve the objective. She also thanked Bailie Hanzala Malik who had been supportive from the beginning and a wide variety of organisations which had also helped along the way – from Charing Cross Housing Association, across the road in Ashley street, to Glasgow Community Planning and the City Council’s Development and Regeneration Service.

The event, on Monday November 17, attracted a large crowd of representatives from bodies which have already used the extensive facilities, café and meeting space in the Albany Centre or are potential users.

Helen McNeil, Chief Executive of GCVS which has its headquarters in the building, said: ‘This has always been a facility for learning, first as Woodside Secondary School then as a Community Education Centre and the Gaelic School, and now as the Albany Learning and Conference Centre. Our turnover is around half a million pounds. And in an increasingly complex environment of governance and change we provide good quality learning. Till we opened, this kind of course could be found – but you had to search all over the city to source it. Now it can all be found here at one, purpose-designed, centre.’ She added that the programmes offered at the Albany fitted particularly well with the city’s needs and the active citizenship agenda.

Margaret Doran, Executive Director of Glasgow City Council’s Education and Social Work, commented that it was a ‘significant day’ in terms of learning in the city.

‘The Albany Centre is bringing something special and vibrant. It is a centre, a source and a place of sharing for the entire community.’ She emphasised how the Third Sector was greatly valued because it brings life chances to citizens and has a network of learning providers. Citing the fact that 80% of children being supported through child protection legislation are in families where parents have addiction problems, she said that one in three of them fall into a ‘black hole’ on leaving school and don’t show up in statistics for people in work, training or learning.

‘Education and learning are the ways forward if we are to challenge proverty,’ said Margaret Doran, ‘This is being promoted not just in schools but in eight areas which are targeting early learning. We are working closely with community learning development and GCVS to strive for innovation and excellence. More than ever, we need the voluntary sector to challenge the funding given for this vital work. All the public agencies need to work together, put people first, and make a difference to the life chances for so many.’

It was appropriate that The Minister for Schools and Skills, Maureen Watt, formally opened the Albany Centre. She was the first MSP to use Doric when being sworn in. Her maiden speech in the Scottish Parliament was on drug treatments and rehabilitation. She was also a prison visitor for 14 years before becoming a Member of the Scottish Parliament.

This background enabled her to congratulated GCVS for their hard work in developing the innovative facility which would encourage collaborative working, teamwork and employee development.

She said: ‘The Third Sector in Glasgow is extensive, dynamic and diverse, reflecting Glasgow’s position as Scotland’s largest city with a unique culture and situation. The Scottish Government believes that the Third Sector is a vital contributor to the Scottish economy.’

By investing and encouraging this sector, she said, it would increase its role in delivering public services and enabling social enterprise to flourish.


The Minister said that £93m had been allocated to the Third Sector in the Scottish Government’s spending review in November 2007. The £30m Scottish Investment Fund will support asset and business development in the Third Sector and a £63m Development programme will include an ‘Enterprising Third Sector Action  Plan.’


Said the Minister: ‘The Action plan will show solidarity, cohesion and sustainability. Solidarity with individuals and communities from the retired to long term unemployed and other groups. Cohesion to encourage development across Scotland and sustainability by promoting recycling, renewable energy and sourcing local food.’

She said the Scottish Government wants to create the right environment for delivering services to people ‘who are at the heart of everything.’

She added: ‘The Albany is an exciting new, learning and training resource for the Third Sector and the community. It will have space for meetings for groups of up to 100. It will help organisations to be more efficient and more effective. And the Scottish Government will keep it in mind when we are organising events.’

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