Always Included Johnstone – uplifting a community
Led by personal experiences and real life insights, non-profit organisation Always Included is improving the lives of kids and their parents on a daily basis.
Shrouded from the hubbub of Johnstone’s main street and located in a former baptist church, Lynne Mclean from Always Included has created a place of respite and joy for those with autism and their families.
Complete with clubs for trains, Lego, art and bakery classes, a mum and baby club and a quaint café which proves to be a “much needed” social space for parents, Lynne, who has first-hand experience of living with her own autistic children, devised a purpose-built space that is informed by those who’ll benefit from it.
“We’re doing it off our own backs”, Lynne declares. “It’s completely run by volunteers and with no outside funding, but we’ve got a great community around us.
Always Included is about supporting anyone that we can. I get parents that come here and they don’t see any way forward and hope isn’t particularly easy to find. I’ve been the one that’s crying on the step and trying to work out how to face another day, but we want to help them feel that yeah, you can have a bad day, but it’s not a bad life.”
“She’s superwoman”, says Maryanne Taggart, volunteer and mastermind behind the on-site Little Crows Bakery. “The way that she can deal with her own kids and then come in and help other people’s is just amazing.”
Bolstered by what Lynne has termed as “half of Johnstone High’s 6th years” worth of volunteers and a young footballer who is “there till the end whether there’s two or ten kids,” Lynne has recently launched a community fridge and clothes bank as well as rolling out plans for a fortnightly market. Additionally, she’s on the lookout for a martial arts instructor. And after launching to such acclaim from those who’ve benefited from this place of solace and social interaction, she has a vision for the future.
“This place has changed not just my life, but my children’s lives. There’s plenty of people here who were feeling lost and had nothing to do. Now, they’ve got a new lease of life. Sometimes, it might just be one new family a week, but that’s one more that we’ve helped. This is only the first one, I’ve got every intention of growing from here.”
Always Included, 11 Walkinshaw Street, Johnstone, PA58AF, find them on Facebook.