A PIONEERING new Largs drop-in centre created to help people with mental health issues has opened its doors.

The Living Room, which has taken up residence at the old Specsavers unit in Aitken Street, is described as a place which will allow people to open up about mental health and other burdens.

St John’s Parish Church is at the forefront and officially opened the centre, which will be run by volunteers, on Monday.

Reverend Jonathan Fleming, one of the people behind the project, says they can make a real difference when other local services are becoming increasingly oversubscribed.

A total of 38 volunteers have already undergone “safeTALK” suicide awareness training to enable them to recognise the early signs and connect people to specialist resources.

A further 18 people have been trained in bereavement care awareness.

Rev Fleming told the News: “As members of the Christian community and the wider community of Largs, we have a responsibility to reach out to those around us.

“There is a perception that if you live in Largs you have plenty of money and have got it all together.

“Sadly, that is far from the case for many.

“The church is first and foremost a place of refuge for those who are hurting or struggling.

“The Living Room that God has blessed us with can allow us to answer that call in ways that we have not been able to do before in the town.”

The community hub has been billed as a 'place to call home' and welcomes anyone of any religion.

National Records of Scotland statistics show there were 22 suicides in North Ayrshire in 2018 and 784 across Scotland as a whole.

It is hoped that the Living Room will be able to assist in anyone dealing with stress or anxiety. It is supported by churches from different denominations across the local area and people of no faith.

Dozens of people attended a special service of dedication to open the doors recently.

Douglas Creighton, probationer minister at St John’s Parish Church linked with Cumbrae, said: “We want The Living Room to be a beacon of light for those who are travelling at the darkest points of their life and for us to burn brightly."

Volunteers will work alongside the Care for the Family charity to offer practical help to address issues including parenting, relationships, bereavement and loss.

The organisation’s national representative in Scotland, Gill Lyth, said: “We are so pleased to be partnering with The Living Room.

“We have seen thousands of lives transformed through our work since 1988 and what will be happening here will transform lives in this community.

“We are here to resource you to do just that because Care for the Family exists to support and equip people who are on the frontline loving and serving families.

“This place is the ideal place for people to feel at ease and met by someone who cares.”

The Living Room has been awarded a £5,000 grant by the Church’s Go for It fund and £5,500 from the Kelburn Windfarm Community Fund.

Other church congregations have agreed to support the initiative with prayer, volunteer help and varying levels of financial contribution.

The Living Room also hopes to develop a partnership with Christians Against Poverty, which will provide advice on household budgeting, and Alzheimer’s Scotland in the not too distant future.