Charity

Meet the man bringing scooter mobility to Kelvingrove Park from an old loo block

By Ian Marland at

Stephen Young is a man on a mission – to bring mobility and parklife to Glasgow’s elderly citizens.

For his is a personal vision to give something back to a generation whom, he says, are too often forgotten and denied access to the outdoors.

His dream of opening up the city’s dear green spaces to people who are dependent on care because of age and infirmity is soon to be realised.

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Access: How the hub will look when scooters are installed at the front.

The finishing touches are currently being applied to a unique community base at the former redundant toilet block set within Kelvingrove Park on Eldon Street.

Stephen’s BeanYet Community Hub will host a number of local social enterprises and community groups, among them his own venture – Park Mobility.

The hub marks several years of hard work on Stephen’s part and a unique partnership with Glasgow City Council.

Stephen Young:
“One of the things that stayed with me from my days in social care was the way some elderly people are put into care homes like zombies.

“They sit there all day watching telly from a side angle.

“It doesn’t matter how good they are – I have been in private homes, council homes, I’ve been in them all – it’s heartbreaking, it lives with you.”

His vision is to one day see a network of revitalised former public buildings across the city providing a base for elderly people using mobility scooters to get out and about.

He envisages a system of scooter trails with charging points from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green.

All the funding to do the first part of the scheme in the West End is in place and he is all ready to go.

In recent days, the hoarding has been removed from the old toilet block in anticipation of its opening.

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Interior: Inside is close to completion and will provide space for groups and workshops.

Stephen says he is looking to officially open in the next few weeks with art classes and drama groups using the small interior space.

He will also have a few mobility scooters for local people who want to use them.

But his fleet will not be in place until next spring when the weather has improved and all the services are installed at the hub.

Meanwhile, there will be a takeaway hatch to serve teas, coffees, healthy drinks and light snacks to passing trade from the university and people visiting the park.

His vision is to one day see a network of revitalised former public buildings across the city providing a base for elderly people using mobility scooters to get out and about.

He envisages a system of scooter trails with charging points from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green.

All the funding to do the first part of the scheme in the West End is in place and he is all ready to go.

Says Stephen: “It’s a space for the whole community but how we pay for it will be through the cafe.

“My early education and work experience was in social work and I have spent over a decade in property development.

“One of the things that stayed with me from my days in social care was the way some elderly people are put into care homes like zombies.

“They sit there all day watching telly from a side angle.

“It doesn’t matter how good they are – I have been in private homes, council homes, I’ve been in them all – it’s heartbreaking, it lives with you.

“So, I want the people who built the country to come here and get in to the park.

“I want the trips to bring back memories – especially for people with dementia.”

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Lav-ly: Former toilet block will soon be serving teas and coffees.

Stephen said the idea for the BeanYet venture and Park Mobility came to him several years ago when he was sitting in the park with his brother.

He recalls: “It was just coincidence that I saw people trying to get up that wee hill there [by the entrance to Kelvingrove Park off Eldon Street] in a wheelchair and they were struggling.

“I’d also done a bit of travelling at that time and I saw how people were on electric scooters going along the promenades in different countries.

“And I just went – that’s what I am doing here! And it just spiralled from there.”

Since then, Stephen has had to overcome building obstacles and red tape.

“I’ve had great support from the Lottery, great support from Jobs & Business Glasgow. In terms of sponsorship, we’ve got many bluechip companies interested in what we are doing here.

“I’ve had government ministers telling me it’s an excellent idea that should be rolled out to other parts of Scotland.

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Refurbishment: Stephen has been working on the project for two years.

“If everything goes well with this one, then I am hoping the next location – which I have been told is along the Clydeside in the Ladies’ Waiting Room on Clyde Street – will go as well.

“That would allow people access along the river in both directions, either towards Glasgow Green and People’s Palace or towards the Transport Museum where I am asking for a charging point for the scooters.”

Stephen Young:
“It was just coincidence that I saw people trying to get up that wee hill there [by the entrance to Kelvingrove Park off Eldon Street] in a wheelchair and they were struggling.

“I’d also done a bit of travelling at that time and I saw how people were on these electric scooters going along the promenades in different countries.

“And I just went – that’s what I am doing here. And it just spiralled from there.”

The council identified the opportunity to secure new socially inclusive uses for a variety of other similar disused and redundant buildings in the council’s property portfolio.

The council is looking to encourage more social enterprises to spark new life into vacant properties.

A GCC spokeswoman told Glasgow West End Today: “We continue to support local businesses by bringing to market properties which are surplus to the council’s operational needs.

“Ultimately, we want the vacant buildings in our parks to play a positive role in, and enhance people’s enjoyment of, our beautiful parks which not only benefits local communities by stimulating social and economic growth but also removes a maintenance burden on the council.”

* For more information about BeanYet visit: https://www.facebook.com/Bean-Yet-516355651838860/