By Peter Quinn & Norbert Salat
Community spirit is alive and well in Kincaidston as residents of the Ayrshire housing estate have come together to support one another following an explosion at a house in Gorse Park on Monday. Many displaced residents are currently staying with neighbours, family or at local hotels and are struggling for food and clothing. The local community centre is a hub for those who have been evacuated, as food, clothing and other essential supplies are being stored and distributed there.
The blast on Monday has left four people injured and caused serious damage to buildings in the surrounding area. More than 60 people were evacuated from their homes and many have yet to return as police and other emergency services have cordoned off the surrounding area. Buildings are constantly being tested and checked as the effort to reinstate the residents begins.
Donations of food and funding have been flooding in over the days since people were forced to leave their homes. A small army of volunteers have been organising the situation at the community centre alongside the building’s staff. They are working tirelessly for large portions of the day to provide for those who have been displaced and are in need of assistance.
“The community has come together really quickly,” Community Centre Secretary Scott Devin said to UWS News reporters. “And not just the local community, people have come down from Irvine and places far and wide that have all come together so it’s not just a local effort.”
“On Monday night the community centre was open in full, the school was open in full (to assist residents), donations were flooding in to Queen Margaret’s School. The hard work and support that everybody’s given has just been second to none.”
For the considerable number of emergency services workers and those working on building checks in the area, the community centre has also become a central hub for them to use the facilities when required and get some food. With large numbers of police on the scene at all times, there is plenty of work to be done to provide for them all.
“The community centre has not just been open for the public,” one volunteer told UWS News. “It’s open for all the workers- the gas workers, the firefighters, the police. They’ve all been coming down here and getting their breakfast, lunch and dinner as well. There’s two janitors from the council who are down here from 9pm to 9am who are here so that it’s open for all the workers.”
Due to the traumatic nature of the past few days, the community centre is offering residents the opportunity to chat to mental health professional. Additionally, the community effort at the centre has given the locals something to focus on, and the chance to be with one another and work together to move forward. With residents slowly being given permission to return to their homes over the next few days, the burden on the officials and volunteers will hopefully diminish slightly. The comfort and support network of the community centre will continue to be needed, however, as the locals slowly return to their daily lives.
For those wishing to donate to help those affected by the explosion, a Just Giving page can be found here.