In 1996, the youth in Gatehouse of Fleet requested a Drop In Centre int which they could meet socially several times at week. The Murray Arms offered their annex free of charge during the winter months and it soon filled up with donations of chairs, tables, crockery, music players and a pool table. Within weeks a Committee was set up to manage the venture and generate funds to provide essential.
A derelict workshop in Digby Street was soon made available and applications were submitted to suitable funders to make the building safe and suitable for the young people. The Committee of local residents successful raised £189,000 from the National Lottery to purchase and refurbish the workshop, fit it out with state-of-the-art facilities and to fund a Youth Work Manager for three years. In 2001 it became a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee in order to adhere to the terms of the National Lottery Award and also became affiliated to YMCA Scotland for valuable advice and support. BBC Children in Need awarded £10,000 providing extra youth provision and equipment. In 2002 the new facility was opened with additional funding from Dumfries & Galloway Council, Holywood Trust, Robertson Trust, Murray Usher Trust and local churches and businesses.
In the meantime, some parents on the Committee had the idea of opening a Charity Shop using an empty shop on the High Street, to raise money to support on going activities and day trips on a more sustainable level. This shop was an instant success with local residents and visitors alike. In 2006 a successful funding application to the Scottish Government Seedcorn Fund enabled the Drop In Centre to purchase the Charity Shop. Today this shop plays a vital role within its Organisation and would not be in such a successful sustainable position without the tremendous support received from the local community and beyond, by way of donations and purchases and the regular commitment of the volunteers who work 6 days a week, sorting and sifting donations, keeping the shop tidy and open for business.
In June 2006 the Gatehouse of Fleet YMCA Drop In Centre was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Over the years have enjoyed new life experiences by travelling out with the area. Five young people attended the YMCA Europe 2008 meeting in Prague, another group took a trip to see the sights of London. A group of young people fund raised and organised themselves which took them to Rome. Overnight trips to Galloway Sailing Centre at Loch Ken, YMCA Wiston Lodge and Aviemore were also popular. Two young people have also represent YMCA Scotland on the Scottish Youth Parliament.
The continued success of this project over the past 25 years has only been possible because of the on-going commitment and support of local residents, young people, businesses, visitors, and funders which has sustained the Gatehouse of Fleet YMCA Drop In Centre as a popular and vibrant venue for the young people in Gatehouse of Fleet.