The Heart of the Community

The Bo’ness Recreation Centre

The local community centre boasts an impressive gym, and a 25-meter 6-lane swimming pool with access for people with disabilities and is also home to the local scuba diving club. Additionally, it features two outdoor football pitches, a rugby pitch hosting the local rugby club, a sports hall, a squash court, and a studio perfect for martial arts. Furthermore, a small social club is situated underneath, providing a space for friends to meet over cocktails, as well as a canteen for coffee breaks or for school children to have lunch. It serves the community extensively and is popular among people of all ages. So why write a blog about this vital part of the community? Unfortunately, the council has decided to close our community centre, citing years of neglect, and claiming that the repair costs would be too high.


Wilma had a great relationship with the recreation centre, as she joined after her accident to aid her rehabilitation. She spent time on the treadmills, watching everyone around her running like something out of “Chariots of Fire.” Wilma, moving at turtle speed with a Zimmer frame, was aided by the friendly staff with various exercises. At times, she suspected they were trying to push her limits, especially when they introduced weight-assisted pull-ups to aid her upper body strength. Huffing and puffing, she slowly hauled herself up, her back muscles screaming in protest. As she reached the top, she thought, “I am alive,” before slowly lowering herself down again. The instructor of her program cheered her on, saying, “Great work, now do another four!” She used the cross trainers, bikes, and rowing machines until she had to give them up due to a sore knee, returning to the physiotherapist for advice. Floor exercises were challenging, but she accepted the challenge, even if she felt like a beached whale trying to get back up afterwards. Swimming in the pool was her favourite, the feeling of weightlessness allowing her to practice exercises more easily.

Hidden Harms

As an Open University student studying for a Bachelor of Arts (Honors), Wilma explored hidden harms within a community setting as part of her studies. She used the example of Sonae in Kirby, Liverpool, throughout her study. The factory had experienced numerous fires, police interventions, and health and safety breaches, resulting in two deaths. The use of carcinogenic substances also led to health issues within the community. Despite these problems, the factory brought employment to the area, leading to the hidden harms being overlooked and harming the community. Residents attempted to sue Sonae for £100 million, though the case fell through due to assorted reasons, as reported in the Sun newspaper. Wilma, having joined the Save the Bo’ness Recreation Centre campaign, drafted an email including all those voting for closure.

The email


Thank you for your email explaining your decision on voting to close the vital services offered by the Bo’ness Recreation Centre. Regrettably, the only explanation you offer for this vote is due to the social economics of Falkirk District Council.

As a fourth-year student at the Open University studying for my Bachelor of Arts in Criminology (Honors), I am concerned that you have based this decision solely on economic factors. There is a rising figure in obesity, reported by STV six months ago to be costing £5.3bn a year. I wonder why you are putting further strain on an already overstretched NHS with the closure of these services. Please explain why you are seemingly discouraging people from engaging in exercise in the local amenities provided, potentially exacerbating health issues.

Additionally, please elaborate on how you intend to support mental health in the local community. Regular exercise is known to reduce stress levels, improve self-confidence, aid in regular sleep patterns, enhance memory, and reduce mental illness, including depression and anxiety.

Moreover, exercise plays a crucial role in aiding hidden and physical disabilities and considering that 1 in 10 people in Scotland are identified with hidden disabilities (such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, and Autism), this closure may negatively impact a sizeable portion of the community. As a Criminology student, it is disheartening to see that Scotland does not keep regular statistics on neurodiverse individuals ending up in prison, unlike England and Wales where it’s around 50%.

I am interested in understanding how the closure of essential services like the recreation centre might contribute to an increase in crime, especially among individuals with hidden disabilities who may face challenges entering employment. This may lead to increased drug use and other criminal activities due to the lack of community spaces.

Last year, I engaged with human rights organizations in Scotland to improve services for people with disabilities, both hidden and physical. Access to services is already challenging for disadvantaged individuals, and working towards a more inclusive Scotland for disability confidence should be a primary goal. The decision to close the recreation centre suggests that minority communities with disabilities, like mine, do not have a voice in these matters. Elected officials like yourself have a clear duty of care towards levelling the playing field, as outlined in the Equality Act of 2010. However, this duty seems to be disregarded, as evident in your email.

I look forward to studying how this decision will impact the local community through my studies.

Kind regards,

Wilma Mayhem Undergraduate of Criminology


The decision to close the recreation centre has been made, and Wilma is still awaiting replies to her emails. Unfortunately, the swimming pool is now permanently closed following an inspection. Wilma finds herself at a loss as to where she can go swimming, especially since most pools offer fun facilities such as wave machines and flumes. All Wilma desires is a simple swimming experience, and the nearest option would be the Edinburgh Commonwealth Pool. However, this entails a lengthy journey involving several buses, as Wilma is unable to drive due to her disability. She continues to await responses from the MPs and councillors she has emailed, though it seems as though they might be delivering their answers via pigeon post, which may have taken an unexpected detour.