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Field offers coronavirus crisis solution to Alness youth group The Place as stretch tent idea opens 'endless opportunities' for local community


By Hector MacKenzie

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A TRAILBLAZING Alness initiative which found a way to continue youth group provision despite the coronavirus restrictions could provide a template for "exciting new partnerships".

The Place Youth Club in Alness has a long track record of working with the area's young people on a host of initiatives which have included out of school and school holiday activities.

Using stretch tents in an open field leased for the purpose, the group has been able to continue its outreach work, also managing to host a special film night.

Ellie Vass checks in arrivals.
Picture: Callum Mackay
Ellie Vass checks in arrivals. Picture: Callum Mackay

It posted: "Although there is still a long way to go, this has given us the opportunity to see how our project would work and how we can adapt our many ideas into the future. We will forever be grateful for the people and companies who have helped us get here so far, it wouldn’t be possible without you. New exciting partnerships have been formed and we can’t wait to work with you all."

The Place has been delivering youth work within the community for over 30 years and continues, despite losing the building it worked from. It estimates that it has contributed nearly £700,000 to youth work within Alness in the last 18 years.

During lockdown, the group continued to deliver a limited programme. Youth workers supported the local community delivery and also contacted and supported many young people. Goody bags with a mental health message were delivered to over 250 households.

The Field concept developed in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Picture: Callum Mackay
The Field concept developed in response to the coronavirus crisis. Picture: Callum Mackay

Every effort has been made to continue to talk to small groups and individuals that the staff felt were vulnerable. Time was also taken to apply for some funding and to give some thought as to the future.

The Place has traditionally provided residential opportunities for young people to access. In light of the coronavirus crisis, it approached a reputable provider with many years’ experience to look at local opportunities. This has resulted activities including river tubing, mountain biking and canoeing. The activities were accompanied by the opportunity to gain recognised accredited qualifications and consultation with young people as to the future delivery of youth work. Specialist training was undertaken by all staff prior to planning.

Looking to the future, it is felt that youth work initially will take place outside and involve outside activities and outreach.

At The Place movie night, Josh Hutchinson, Sharlene Henderson, Anna O'Brien and Janette Douglas are on hand to help out.
Picture: Callum Mackay
At The Place movie night, Josh Hutchinson, Sharlene Henderson, Anna O'Brien and Janette Douglas are on hand to help out. Picture: Callum Mackay

A field was available for rent in the local industrial estate. Its proximity close to the local Army cadet hut and Fyrish Gymnastics Club was seen as an advantage as both are third sector charities similar to The Place. It is hoped all will be able to benefit with possibilities including youth work, employability, training for army cadets and gymnastics, refugee groups, local gardening groups, mental health groups and nurseries able to access the facilities.

Parkour, dance workshops, cinema evenings and games are also possibilities.

Youth workers involved with The Place believe that the opportunties are endless.

Related: The Place steps up to coronavirus crisis with sessions for children

Alness pupils bag a boost during coronavirus crisis



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