ALLOA South and East has been found to be the fourth most-deprived area in Scotland, according to recent figures.

The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) was released last week and claims only parts of Inverclyde, Glasgow and Renfrewshire are worse off.

The area of the Wee County town incorporating Bowhouse Road and Forth Crescent was specifically singled out as an area of concern.

The location has steadily plummeted down the SMID rankings of nearly 7,000 "data zones" over the past eight years.

In 2012, it was ranked 107th; by 2016, it had dropped to 13th; and as of last month, it was the 4th lowest ranked data zone in Scotland.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser:

And throughout that eight-year period, surrounding parts of Alloa South and East have also made their way onto the index's list of the "most deprived 5%" of data zones as well.

No other part of Clackmannanshire made that list.

That news was described as a "shock, but not a surprise" by one woman from the area who has spent the past year trying to reverse the trend.

Kirsty McFarlane was one of four parents who launched the Clax 1400 group last year.

Organised from the Bowmar Centre, the group's purpose from day one was simple: to bring people together to improve their local area, and their lives.

Kirsty told the Advertiser: "Years ago, Bowmar was a social spot.

"It was well known for [events such as] its discos – everyone in Alloa used to come.

"We wanted to bring that atmosphere back."

With that goal in mind, Clax 1400 started off small, as a community café held every Friday.

But those who stopped by could do far more than just enjoy a tea, coffee or a friendly chat.

Local support groups were also invited along to market their services to people who may have otherwise known nothing about them.

Kirsty said: "We have had the Citizens Advice Bureau come down a lot with different projects, and Home Start, Ochil View Housing Association, Paragon Housing.

"We're trying to get in more stuff from the NHS, criminal justice, victim support.

"A lot of people weren't accessing these services, and it's easier for people to access them if they can speak to someone face to face."

As well as inviting support groups to the café, Clax 1400 has also reinvested any money it makes back into the community.

The group has also teamed up with other local organisations and held a number of successful events over the past year – with much more planned for the year ahead.

And it seems the community has taken notice, because when Kirsty was asked how many people had been stopping by the Bowmar Centre every Friday, she said: "We've kind of lost count."

And speaking about Clax 1400's aims going forward, she said: "In our own community it's become one half of Alloa, and the other half of Alloa, and we're trying to change all that."

But Clax 1400 is far from the only group looking to improve the area.

The Wimpy Park Community Group has been fighting hard to turn Alloa's walled garden into a thriving community space.

Connect Alloa has been working to address social isolation amongst the younger generation.

Sharing is Caring Wee County has harnessed social media to provide a wide range of help for anyone in the area who needs it.

And this is just a small sample of the wide range of community-based initiatives working to revive the fortunes of the entire Alloa area.

These efforts were praised by Rev Jason Lingiah, chair of the town's community council.

Having come from Glasgow, he said he was "shocked" to see that an area of Alloa had been ranked the fourth most deprived in Scotland.

But he was full of praise for the residents looking to make a difference in their community, and said: "volunteers really do make Alloa – they are doing the work on the ground."