Kirktonhill resident James Sheils; Dunmore, the house in question; Kirktonhill in days gone by, and the logo of the Church of Scotland.

By Bill Heaney

CrossReach, the operating name of the Social Care Council of the Church of Scotland, are disappointed at the reaction of people living in Kirktonhill to their plan to move a home for troubled children into house in an exclusive and very expensive part of Dumbarton.

Residents in Helenslee Road, which is above the Bombe Stairs at Levengrove, and a neighbour to Dixon Bowling Club and Levenford House, say they are deeply concerned at the Kirk’s plans to lease a £400,000 house there.

Their spokesperson James Sheils claims the Kirk is attempting to circumvent the planning process by applying for a different kind of permission called a Certificate of Lawful Use, which has led them to receive permission on appeal and take up occupancy of two other houses for a similar purpose, one in Stirling and the other in East Dunbartonshire.

A spokesman for CrossReach, the operating name of the Social Care Council of the Church of Scotland, said: “CrossReach is a social care provider with compassion at the heart of its ethos and we are saddened by the reaction to our modest plans to provide a safe and secure home for four children.

“Scottish Government guidance specifically states that the ‘single household concept provides more certainty over the planning position of small group homes, which play a major role in the government’s Community Care Policy aimed at enabling vulnerable people to live in touch with the community’.

“CrossReach has engaged with local residents and has been in dialogue with West Dunbartonshire Council over the past few months.

“It has submitted a planning application for a Certificate of Lawful Use which will be considered by the planning authority in due course.”

The residents are concerned at media reports about similar houses where there have been late night disturbances and high numbers of police visits following searches for runaway children.

CrossReach had hoped to pair the house at Helenslee Road with a new education facility it has built across the River Clyde at Erskine.


  1. I lived in an affluent community where a new children’s home was created. Despite a great deal of anxiety and opposition from the residents the home opened and was quickly and happily integrated into the wider community. These are children not monsters! The truth is that these are children whose early years have often been characterised by pain and despair – they deserve our concern and acceptance not further rejection. I wonder how you might feel if your potential neighbours created a petition and went to the media to try and prevent you moving into their community without having met you? Would you do this if it was a minority ethnic family moving in or a gay couple or someone with disabilities? This is exactly the same kind of prejudice that for these groups is now illegal. It would be important to find out a little more about the reality of these children’s lives and be prepared to be open to the possibility that you might like them and certainly feel compassion for them. On a purely practical level the reality of having a property where there is always at least one adult around 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year makes a community much safer not more dangerous and it is also a good place to get all those Amazon parcels delivered!!


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