For the past ten weeks, Helm has been working in partnership with Craigtoun Park and Families First to deliver an innovative ten week employability programme pilot for young people in North East Fife who were struggling to access education and employment through traditional means.

The pilot programme was held within Craigtoun Park on Tuesdays for seven young people and it helped the participants gain practical life skills including safe cooking.  Throughout the programme, Helm has seen significant growth in young people’s confidence as well as improvement in their mental health and wellbeing. Research run throughout the programme found that participants have benefited significantly from the pilot and would like to see it continue. Prior to participating, they found thinking about the future stressful and they now see positives in their future and have identified their personal skills and strengths. When the participants were asked whether they would rather do the programme in a college or community centre they said that they’d prefer to be at Craigtoun Park. They like the peace and quiet, enjoy being in the cafe and kitchen and one would like to learn more about gardening and different types of birds.

The project at Craigtoun Park has been a fantastic way for local young people to interact with their peers and gain vital life skills that will help them on their journey into adulthood and employment. Sadly the Covid pandemic and the lockdowns have impacted significantly on our younger generations, they’ve lost nearly two years of their lives which are normally vital in gaining social and life skills they will need in the future. Helm recognises that now is the time to look at new and innovative ways to support young people so they don’t become a lost generation and this project at Craigtoun Park has been a great way to build the confidence and skill set of young people.

Ally Calder, Chief Executive

Parents of the young people have commented that they’ve seen significant changes with their children who have participated in the pilot. One parent noticed an improvement in her son’s mental health and wellbeing. Another parent has seen immense improvement in their daughter’s confidence and self-esteem. One participant now hopes to do a mechanical maintenance course through Helm after not knowing which direction they’d like to take in the future.

A survey was conducted throughout the programme with young people, park visitors and employability stakeholders. 97% of survey respondents said they would be in favour of Craigtoun Country Park opening a training and educational centre for young people to learn new skills such as catering, hospitality, events planning, horticulture and gardening.

It is clear there is an urgent need to provide better support for young people from North East Fife. We’ve observed significant growth in these ten weeks and it is only the tip of the iceberg.  We are now seeking funding to continue the project in Craigtoun and hope to return soon to provide life-changing support for local young people. If any local businesses would like to get involved to support the project, we’d urge you to get in touch today to find out how you can work with Helm to make a difference.

Ally Calder, Chief Executive

The sessions finished on Tuesday 21st March with a celebration which STV News attended.

You can watch their coverage by visiting STV News – Dundee | Tue 21 Mar, 6.00 pm – scroll to the 15 minute mark to watch the coverage about Helm and find out more about our project.