With seven small towns and villages scattered across 25 square miles, youth work in Earlston High’s catchment area faces particular challenges.
Earlston Youth Catchment (EYC) is the over-arching locality group which supports the volunteer-led youth groups within the school area.
Currently, there are five youth clubs operating in Lauder, Earlston, Newstead, Newtown St Boswells and Melrose, with a further two in the process of being formed in Oxton and St Boswells.
EYC supports the volunteer-led groups in each of these localities, providing opportunities for volunteer training, help with small funding bids, assistance with PVG/child protection requirements and helping set up policy and procedure structures.
EYC development worker Susan Law says the organisation also has a role to play in bringing the various groups together.
“We are looking to have quarterly or twice-yearly get-togethers where people can share ideas and resources, as well as just enjoy the chance to meet up,” Susan told us.
“The oldest youth club in the EYC was founded 13 years ago and the newest is currently in the process of being set up now.
“Between the five existing projects we have around 120 young people attending in total and, hopefully, if we can attract more volunteers, we can not only increase the number of young people these groups can cater for, but also increase the range of activities on offer.”
All the groups, which cater for young people aged from 10-18, are listed on the EYC website and have their own Facebook pages as well.
They offer activities which include sports, crafts, art and media, plus sessions with visitors who have expertise in specialist activities.
“You do get volunteers who come for one-off sessions and find they love it so much they end up offering their services for longer periods,” Susan added.
And she explained that one particular challenge centres on transport: “Given that the groups are spread over 25 square miles, this poses certain difficulties.
“However, EYC is currently in the process of looking at acquiring a youth bus, as there is a real lack of youth provision, especially for the 14-plus age group in this area.
“Just getting from, say Lauder to Galashiels to use the swimming pool, poses problems for young people and we want to try to address such issues.
“We need to offer as much support as we can to these groups and help them create the opportunities for young people to experience the same wide range of activities that young people in the bigger towns can enjoy.”