Scottish youth groups are set to receive a “life-changing” funding boost of nearly £2m by the National Lottery Community Fund.
The pot, which delivers the Young Start Fund, will give £1,876,551 to 23 youth-led projects to help “develop the skills and talents of thousands of young Scots”.
One such club, which will now be able to keep its doors open to hundreds of young people across Edinburgh, is Deaf Action.
Due to an award of £100,000, the group will continue to bring young people across the city together – like 17-year-old Emily.
Part of the group since the age of nine, Emily said the Deaf Action has helped her understand more about her deafness and make new friends.
“When I first joined, I was really shy and didn’t know much about my deafness. But ever since I’ve been here, I’ve met new friends and the activities have helped me learn more about myself,” she said.
“The leaders here, who are also deaf, have helped us all learn more about our deafness.
“We can look up to them and can see how they’re successful, and it just helps to know that things later in life are going to be good.
“The best part of being in the Youth Club definitely has to be making friends. The friends I’ve had for the longest time have been the ones I’ve made here and have to be the best ones I’ve ever met.”
Lauren McAnna, Deaf Action community services manager said: “Our programme is shaped by the diverse voices of our young people, who through our club, enjoy the sense of feeling like an equal amongst their peers.”
Another such award of £92,000 for the Tweeddale Youth Action SCIO means they can continue their Food Punks project – providing cookery, communication and teamwork skills to local young people.
Cameron, 16, from Peebles, says the project has helped him gain the experience and skills he will need when he leaves school and looks for a job.
“I’ll be leaving school soon, and I’ll need to focus on either further education or getting a job, but environments like college or school aren’t my favourite,” he said.
“The youth club has offered me help and are looking for possible employment opportunities for me, which makes me feel confident in that I now have more opportunities than I did before.
“The staff give me responsibilities like handing me a recipe and they know they can safely trust me in the kitchen without accidentally setting the kitchen on fire or cutting myself.
“Having that level of responsibility really helps me focus on what I’m doing and getting it done safely, and overall, and gives me confidence for a more independent future.”
Dave Hodson, locality manager at Tweeddale Youth Action said: “Learning some nifty cookery skills is the tip of the iceberg for our crew who also learn how to work as a team, communicate effectively, and how important it is to be able to rely on each other and cope with high pressure environments.”
Announcing today’s funding, chair of the National Lottery Community Fund Scotland, Kate Still, said: “These latest awards, made to such a diverse range of projects, will make such a difference to the lives of thousands more young people like Emily and Cameron.
“Deaf Action and Tweeddale Youth Action are both fantastic examples of how Young Start funding can help organisations deliver invaluable services to young people across Scotland.
“We are always keen to support projects that put Scotland’s young people at the heart of the development and running of services. If your group has an idea how you would make this happen, then we’d love to hear from you.”
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