Building a new foundation for young people on Arran

The Arran Youth Centre which has been transferred to the AYF.

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Council agree community asset transfer

By Hugh Boag

Councillors have agreed to the asset transfer of Arran Youth Centre and its grounds from North Ayrshire Council to Arran Youth Foundations (AYF).

It will pay just one per cent of the property valuation of £20,000 – £200 – for the centre at Arran High School’s playing field in Lamlash.

The temporary nature of the portacabin means that, at some point in the future, a replacement will be necessary. So the AYF had been keen to ensure that they acquired ownership of the portacabins and land to be able to build a more permanent base.

The decision was taken by the council at one of the last meetings held before all committee meetings were suspended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a report before the meeting, AYF stated the asset transfer would provide it with ‘the autonomy to develop plans for a ‘fit for purpose’ centre and offers a long-term solution to the sustainability of permanent accommodation from which to deliver their work.

‘The transfer of Arran Youth Centre will provide a sustainable base for local youth provision in a facility which has been declared surplus to service requirements by North Ayrshire Council. Proposed uses include a range of events and activities.’

The report also stated the cabins are well equipped to provide a conducive space for young people to meet and that once the transfer is complete, they will continue to be used to for the delivery of youth provision.

Until the enforced shutdown, this included 16 weekly sessions including activities that support young people to learn new skills, make friendships, increase their social circle, grow in confidence and increasingly take on responsibility through active engagement. Activities help tackle social isolation and feelings of exclusion and support with well-being and good mental health. Many young people attend to discuss issues including depression, stress, grief, bullying, sexual assault, sexual orientation and other issues.

A Duke of Edinburgh group, HSCP, an arts and crafts children’s group and sign language classes currently use the centre. It is anticipated these will  continue with others making more use of the centre, widening the scope of events and activities on offer on the island whilst supporting Arran Youth Foundations with income.

As part of the process of applying for a Community Asset Transfer, AYF created a survey to ask members of the Arran community if they supported the bid to own the youth cabin. The survey was promoted by word of mouth, social media and email and AYF leaders also visited Arran High School. Nearly 300 people took part in the consultation.

Youth work project manager Graeme Johnston said he was ‘delighted’ on the outcome which they had been working on for a number of months.

Meanwhile, AYF had success at the National Youth York Awards held by YouthLink Scotland in Glasgow last month. Nominated in two categories, volunteer Chris Attkins was named runner-up in the volunteer of the year category while AYF was named runner up in the community-based youth work category.