As lockdown eases across Scotland, the Irvine branch have begun to offer new drop-in days for members, to allow them back inside the building to socialise after a long year apart.

 Branch secretary Arlene Reid says, “We were trying to get everyone back in touch and make sure that everyone is okay … isolation has been a huge thing. People aren’t seeing anybody; they might only be speaking to one person a week. I’m ex-mental health nursing, so I’m very aware that there’s a need for this kind of thing with our guys. We thought with lockdown easing, and us being able to serve teas and coffees and a wee bite to eat, it’d be the ideal thing.”

 Following government guidelines, the drop-in days started on the 26 April, and have been well received by returning branch members.

 “It’s actually been pretty successful,” says Arlene. “We were kind of nervous thinking that people would be too scared to come in, but we actually had quite a good turnout.”

 During lockdown the Irvine branch underwent a makeover, and Arlene believes the improved setting will offer branch members and civilians new ways to socialise and take part in the community. Irvine branch president Robert Dunlop also helped Arlene to get the new drop-ins up and running.

 “We’re looking for members to come in and use the goods. It doesn’t have to be over a pint,” she explains. “I don’t want members to feel like they’ve got to associate our branch with alcohol, and they can just come in for a tea and coffee. Hopefully, looking forward we can start to offer soups and sandwiches as well. Then we know that the older generation who are on their own can get something to eat as well.”

 Looking to the future, Arlene hopes that the Irvine branch will have more drop-in days and continue to reconnect with members as the country moves out of lockdown.

 “We’ve got a massive hall with tables around the edge which is perfect for social distancing. Usually we have acts up on a Saturday night and things like that, obviously we’re missing that as well.

 “We’re hoping to try and put ourselves on the map, so people know we’re there. Hopefully we’re going to open it up to civilians as well, so they can go in and join the Legion. It’s open to ambulance, police and nursing too, we’ve got a few plans in the pipeline.”