A stage for Scottish young people to shine and forget their troubles

A STAR turn performed by Wooden Spoon Scotland nine years ago continues to provide a stage on which young people can shine and forget their troubles.

In 2012, the children’s charity of rugby donated £10,000 to the Pilton Youth and Children’s Project (PYCP) – a charity serving communities in Edinburgh which are among the most deprived in Scotland – to help transform an unused room into a multipurpose creative studio.

The dramatic makeover included the installation of wooden sprung flooring for dancing, a large mirror for practising routines, ballet barres, state-of-the-art stage lighting and a sound system.

Chris Patterson, Scotland’s all-time record points scorer and second mostcapped player, opened the curtains on the revamped venue, which quickly proved itself to be a star attraction.

A year after its opening, the studio hosted Pilton Youth’s Got Talent – an event boasting everything from juggling to hip-hop dancing and one that united the centre’s surrounding community. Lesley Ross, PYCP’s youth work, employability and volunteering project manager, said:

“The amazing thing about that evening is that parents and extended family all came together and it was a chance for their kids to shine. “They could see the amazing things that young people can do given the right nurture, time and support.”

“It was like all the problems and challenges that they were facing on a daily basis were forgotten about for one night and they could be free from it all. This was really powerful and in my mind showed the huge impact the funding from Wooden Spoon has had on improving the lives of local children, young people and their families.”

The studio has been in near-constant use ever since, with dance sessions, fitness classes, music workshops, guest entertainers and nativity shows among the many activities featured on its busy timetable.

It has become a key resource for the team at PYCP, who help children and young people to tackle the disadvantages and hardships associated with poverty by providing opportunities for them to thrive.

“The studio is vibrant in colour and a warm inviting space,” explained Lesley, highlighting that some of the families on the Project’s doorstep are exposed to unemployment, poverty, addiction, poor physical and mental health and high crime rates, and that the life chances of children can be compromised by caring responsibilities and the absence of stable role models.

“For many of the young people it feels safe and secure – something that they are often longing for in their lives,” she concluded. “It has added to the great facilities we have within PYCP and, through our range of programmes, we reach many outcomes including reducing social isolation and developing confidence, problem solving skills and resilience.

“We help by providing a safe, supportive environment where young people can talk through worries, develop new skills and – above all – have fun. “Helping a child or young adult to stay at school or make healthier choices offers hope of a brighter future.”

This story features on pages 12 + 13 in the latest edition of Spoonews, if you would like to read the full magazine please click here.

To help more children like Arabella, you can give regularly and become a member of Wooden Spoon for just £5 per month, or make a one-off donation here.