Craigshill Good Neighbour Network

About Spark

Craigshill Good Neighbour Network (CGNN) was established 37 years ago when many people moved to the “New Town” of Livingston from Glasgow and Edinburgh. 

Many of these new residents had left behind family and friends to set up a new life in Craigshill. Consequently, they did not have the same support network as they did “back home” which led to feelings of social isolation and loneliness in a new community that was establishing itself. Craigshill Good Neighbour Network connected people then as it does as SPARK today to meet, make new friends and share skills and experience. 

It’s Vision and Values remain the same as they did then: 

Our vision is that everyone experiencing social isolation in the communities around Craigshill feels valued and has the chance to spark their potential.

  • At Spark we love to see new faces.
  • We bring people together.
  • Everyone is welcome whatever their social and ethnic background, gender and sexual orientation.
  • We help them connect and build relationships.
  • We nurture their confidence and develop their skills and creativity.
  • We spark possibilities for a different way of seeing themselves.
  • We are where people thrive and make changes to have the life they want.

At SPARK we value everyone for who they are and the potential they have.  
Whoever they are, whatever their situation, they will find a warm welcome and a place where people care about them. 
Together we use our positive and imaginative approach to create a space where anyone can thrive. 

We create spaces for people to connect and build relationships so that they feel supported, encouraged and valued – and can then help others feel the same in return 

We encourage fun and a sense of hope in everyone who walks through our door so that they know this is a place where they can thrive  

We believe everyone deserves the chance to feel better about themselves and make a change to their lives

Meet the Team

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Jane Deary - Chief Executive Officer

I got involved with SPARK in 2013, then known as Craigshill Good Neighbour Network. It offered one social group a week and a summer trip for 26 members and 6 volunteers. I could see the potential it had to offer more and make a life changing impact for many more people experiencing feelings of social isolation and loneliness.

There is no typical day at SPARK as the diversity of people who engage with us make each day unique. What is a constant is the warm welcome offered, the opportunity to connect with others, make friends, learn and share skills, good times and experiences. Working at SPARK is more than a job. It is a privilege to be a custodian of such a special organisation that is approaching its 40th year. I have been able to transfer the skills I developed in the private and public sector to support the continued growth of our charity that attracts the support of generous, talented people to strengthen our community.

I would describe myself as someone who constantly looks for opportunities to spark the best in everything. I enjoy helping others reach their potential by finding ways to support them in achieving their goals. Sometimes it is just helping people believe that they can. Our members tell us we have transformed the quality of their life. What could be more inspiring and rewarding than that! 

When I was growing up, I was attracted to some wonderful careers such as a Secret Detective, Fashion Designer and Under Water Archaeologist. Little did I know then that I would be fortunate enough to find a career that really makes a difference and brings me so much joy.

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Pauline Hanratty - Enterprise Manager

I started volunteering at Spark in March 2018, I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people and having a blether, Spark was the perfect place for me to volunteer and I remember thinking to myself, this would be my dream job. Fast forward 3 months later and I landed myself the best job ever as Sparks Social Enterprise Manager. 

My role enables me to create volunteer opportunities within our Social Enterprise shop, supporting and inspiring volunteers to get involved helping them develop new skills and encouraging them to share their existing ones with others. I love that I get to be part of a volunteer’s journey, its incredible to see their confidence and self-esteem grow. 

The role allows me to facilitate volunteer focus groups sharing new and innovate ways to generate income to support the incredible work Spark does within the community. Spark to me is all about welcoming everyone with open arms, encourage one another, having fun and making new friends. One of the thing I love most about working at Spark is listening to the members and volunteers sharing their memories and stories, I feel so lucky and privileged to be part of such a fantastic charity.         

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Heather McLean - Activities Manager

As the Activities Manager at Spark. I love that I get to see at first hand the amazing difference we make to our members and the wider community, using a holistic approach to social isolation and loneliness.

It’s my role to ensure that Spark has a wide range of activities supporting creativity and good physical and mental health in the community, whilst also remaining true to our values of providing the opportunities to spark new beginnings, connections and friendships.

I am a profoundly deaf cochlear implant user and a grateful recipient of a Hearing Dog, Maddie. I have ADHD and I’m also a proud mum of children with ASD, ADHD and Anxiety.

I’m a passionate advocate for equality and diversity rights, recognising and embracing the unique skills and talents each of us, from all different walks of life, possess.

As a qualified Hypnotherapist and Coach I provide mental well-being support and workshops to our members and I have also developed a successful 6 week “Unique You” course exclusively for Spark, which has achieved life changing results for participants. 

Spark is inclusive, warm and innovative and I’m delighted and proud to be a part of a very talented and passionate team of staff, volunteers and members.

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Alex Fleming - Operations Manager

I am delighted to join Spark as Operations Manager, a role which will see me working with Jane and the team to develop an operational plan.

This will ensure we are focused on delivering an exciting, engaging and diverse programme of activities for those around Craigshill and beyond. This simply means reviewing all the fantastic work that has gone on before and creating a practical document that outlines our key processes and responsibilities for the next 12 months. 

This will align with the strategic aspirations for growth and development that Spark has. In fact, it was both the strong foundations Spark has been built on and the exciting potential Jane sees for the future, which really made me want to be part of the team and I’m looking forward to bringing my skills and knowledge here and supporting Spark through the next phase. 

During the last two years, as we dealt with adapting to very different lifestyles, I co-founded a charity focused on learning, wellbeing and collaboration. This was a great insight into some of the challenges faced by our communities but also how, across the country, third sector organisations and volunteers rose to meet them. 

Prior to that, I was the Business Improvement District Manager in Falkirk, a role that was both challenging and rewarding. Leading a small team, we delivered programmes individually and in partnership which helped ensure the town centre was safe, clean and friendly. My proudest moment was winning BID of the Year in 2018 against over 200 other BID’s, UK wide. People and place are my passion. 

Whilst I love my work and sometimes forget to switch off, I also love a holiday! It’s fantastic to be able to travel again. I love packing my sunglasses and flip flops to jet off to the sun, but I also love spending time here, in Scotland. We live in a truly beautiful country, something I have appreciated more over the last couple of years. Finally, I’m a bit of a music geek. My brain seems to retain all sorts of useless information on songs, bands, artist etc. 

Anyone needing a team member for a pop quiz, I’m your lady. I'd love to say Hi, so please feel free to drop me a line.

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Niamh - Social Media Manager

Passionate about all things media and film, Niamh will be responsible for SPARK'S social media content. 

“I started going to the SPARK Film Making group when it started in February since I wanted to expand my knowledge of Film and Media since I’ve always had a passion for media ever since I was younger. I taught myself how to video edit when I was 11 years old as I had seen on social media that people were editing tv shows, movies and even youtubers at that time. 
I decided to try it out for myself and found I really enjoyed the creative process. I also studied creative and digital media at college and when it came to the digital marketing, I enjoyed it far more than I expected to and became really interested in the analytics of posts on social media. 

I always wanted to go into something in the media sector and it’s amazing that my first ever job can be in that sector. My role at SPARK is Social Media Management Assistant so it involves creating and posting content for SPARK’S social media pages. 

Outside of SPARK I have an interest in video games and the soundtracks from those games, they are my favourite to listen from calming game music to anything that’s upbeat and fast paced. I also have a dog named Hamish who we got back in November of 2021, he is a very loving dog and loves meeting new people. I love to read and have so many well worn books to show for this passion.”

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Natasha - Community Development Assistant

I started coming to Spark in February this year when I joined the Filmmaking Group. I have always had an interest in film and television production. Two months later and I have gained employment at Spark in an exciting and diverse role as Community Development Assistant. 

This role will allow me to draw on the skills that I gained in my career as a Video Editor and as a full-time mum. I have been a full-time mum for 15 years and this is my first step back into the working world. I have received a warm and friendly welcome from the team at Spark, as they show me the ropes.

One of the things I love about Spark is the opportunity to connect with others and share skills. At the Filmmaking Course, I have been able to revive some of the skills that I already knew from my degree in Communication Skills and my Video Editing career. I started my career as a Runner for a television production company while I was a student. This gave me experience in watching the editing process. Then, as a graduate, I got a job as a Production Assistant in another production company. They saw my keenness to edit and sent me on a training course at the BBC to learn how to edit. I soon became a Video Editor of corporate videos, broadcasts, government training videos and short films.

 As a mum, I think you learn a lot of invaluable skills that I feel I can transfer into my role here are Spark. For example, time-keeping and organisation skills. It is vital that kids get to school and activities on time, looking presentable is a bonus! Good interpersonal communication skills are also important in calming terrible twos or terrible teens alike!

 In my free time, I enjoy yoga, meditation, cycling and swimming. I love to cycle along the cycle paths around Livingston, always stopping off for a coffee and a cake. I enjoy nature walks in the wood and on the beach, especially if I can convince my family to come with me!

2, Almondsbank
The Mall, Livingston.  EH54 5EJ
(01506) 442093