A Westray Outreach Centre was established in Autumn 1998, with a local learning sub group meeting regularly from November 1999 and working towards establishing a dedicated space for the Outreach Centre. Acute pressure of use on the school and community premises was requiring a constant juggling of resources and it was recognised that the facilities needed to be accessible and available when people wanted to use them. Some of the other priorities for new premises included:
– To ensure resources are adequate for projected levels of use
– To provide a private video enabled interview space
– To provide a quiet study space for students
– To lower the threshold of accessibility and establish more regular opening times
– To encourage an opportunity for users to progress and learn new skills
– To create an ambient atmosphere and environment for all users.
This was all achieved when the Westray Healthy Living Centre opened in 2006 incorporating a learning centre and videoconference room.
Initially, the Westray Outreach Centre was recognised as a UHI learning centre, and over the years has involved a partnership of various agencies including Orkney College, Orkney Enterprise (now Highlands & Islands Enterprise), OIC Education Department and Westray Development Trust.
In 2007 Westray Development Trust included the Learning Centre as one of its five key community development projects linked to the turbine project, to be funded by Big Lottery. The additional funded hours (a further day per week) contributed to a big increase in both the use of the Learning Centre and the number of additional courses delivered locally, which had been the major priority. The Big Lottery project ended in Mar 2010.