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Published 07 September 2017

A summer programme which set out to engage 80 young people in a range of confidence-building, positive experiences has been hailed a huge success after attracting more than 500 participants.

West Dunbartonshire Youth Alliance, which incorporates West Dunbartonshire Council’s Working4U team in partnership with voluntary group Y Sort-it, delivered on the six-week Summer Programme of events ─ which was backed by £13,250 from the Scottish Government’s Cashback for Communities fund.

Originally aiming to sign-up 80 young people between the ages of 10 and 18, the project team actually registered 512 youngsters on a wide range of activities that included sporting activities and cultural visits.

Activities were spread between Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven and the Clydebank area.

Councillor Diane Docherty, the Council’s Convener of Housing & Communities, said: “It is quite remarkable how successful this Summer Programme has been and I’m thrilled to see how far the organising team has made the Cashback for Communities money go. The idea behind these activities was to offer young people the kind of interaction and stimulation that could stand them in good stead as they move forward into employment or further education and clearly this is a project that we would very much like to continue in the coming years.”

Councillor Iain McLaren, Vice Convener of Housing & Communities, added: “The feedback from the Summer Programme is very encouraging and shows that the young people who took part certainly had a positive experience. It is vital that we ensure young people from every community in West Dunbartonshire are given the opportunity to learn new skills. I would like to thank every volunteer and member of staff who worked so hard on this project and every youngster who took part and to congratulate them on their success.”

The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson MSP, was in Dumbarton recently to meet some of the West Dunbartonshire Youth Alliance volunteers who helped facilitate the programme.

He said: “I was delighted to be able to meet the volunteers and learn at first-hand, the very real differences that the Scottish Government’s CashBack programme is making to young people’s lives.

“As a Government we are committed to tackling inequality. The CashBack programme allows us to use money seized from criminals and invest it into facilities and activities which benefit local communities throughout Scotland and offers real alternatives to crime and anti-social behaviour.”

Feedback from Summer Programme participants found that 92% increased their feeling of being very safe and nurtured throughout; 90% increased their sense of feeling very respected during the programme; and 70% of participants felt a greater feeling of belonging to their community in comparison to when they started.

As well as the funding from Cashback for Communities for the Summer Programme, the Council’s Experiential Programme is supported by the Scottish Government’s No Knives Better Lives campaign ─ which aims to raise awareness of the consequences of carrying a knife and provides information on activities and opportunities for young people.