A LIFELINE community group which has been working away behind the scenes during lockdown is gearing up to re-open.

Lyle Gateway, a community group based at the Lyle Kirk Church, briefly reopened in November with screens and extra safety measures only to be locked down again soon afterwards.

Organisers say they were acutely aware of the toll that isolation could have on their members, so they decided to find a way round the problem

Jimmy Crawford, chairman, said: "From day one the Gateway committee understood the mental health effect this shutdown would have on the older generation, especially those who would be alone.

"We have approximately 140 members and the committee decided to take 12 names each and telephoned people on a weekly basis.

"These calls actually opened up another avenue, with some of the committee doing shopping and delivering it to people who can't get out."

Building on this success, the group secured funding and bought 10 iPads to allow members to stay in touch with family and friends.

Derek Mitchell, community development leader, said: "The main focus for us has been the ongoing contact checking in with people.

"It was good for people to hear another voice.

"We also carried out doorstep visits when restrictions were eased."

Jimmy says the popularity of the cafe when the Gateway did re-open in November proves there is a need in the area for people to come together.

He told the Tele: "We usually get 60 people coming along on Tuesdays and Thursdays and when we re-opened we had 40 members coming along on both days."

This inspired them to go ahead with their festive programme and they held their Christmas party and delivered selection boxes to all 466 pupils in Ardgowan Primary.

It was with a heavy heart they postponed their Christmas Day lunch, but the group instead handed out vouchers and selection boxes.

When the club gets the go-ahead to reopen they will restart the table tennis and chair exercises which proved popular prior to lockdown.

Meanwhile, as we edge slowly towards the easing of lockdown restrictions the committee members are optimistic about the future and making plans.

Derek said: "A community garden is our next major project.

"We have support from the National Lottery for that and are looking forward to it.

"We will have a small stage where young people can perform and a pizza oven.

"We also hope to run an art class and have been working alongside other garden projects."

Wilson Evans, treasurer, added: "It will be a community garden for everyone, a mix of young and old.

"We have a scout leader who is teaching scouts how to grow things and cook.

"We are hoping that a younger group will learn from the older group."