Giving youth a chance in Newtongrange

Youth worker Sheryl Skelton and Kodie McShane of the Smile for Shellie campaign at the Newtongrange Action Plan launch.
Youth worker Sheryl Skelton and Kodie McShane of the Smile for Shellie campaign at the Newtongrange Action Plan launch.

There was a strong emphasis on supporting young people in Newtongrange’s Five-Year Community Action Plan, revealed recently in the village.

The Smile for Shellie campaign and the Silver Band’s youth section both received funding from The Coalfields’ Community Futures Programme, which provided a £25,000 Participatory Budget to help get key initiatives off the ground.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust supported the local steering group who researched and drew up the Action Plan after hearing the views of over 300 residents who voted for their favourite projects at a family fun day.

Smile for Shellie, which was set up after the death of 16-year-old local girl Shellie Callaghan, received an award of £4600 for a project to divert young people from anti-social or risk-taking behaviour by organising training courses, including high-level training on specialised first aid techniques on dealing with drug induced conditions which the Smile for Shellie team hope could help prevent another tragedy.

The campaigners also used part of the funding to buy Smile for Shellie wrist bands which have already helped raise £700 for the campaign.

The Nitten Nippers, as the Silver Band’s Youth section is known, received an award of £5880 for uniforms, instruments and other equipment.

Other funding packages went to the 21 st Midlothian Scout Group who received £1600 to paint their scout hall, Newtongrange Primary School Parents Group received £1800 for an arts project, and the local community nursery received £1350 for a sensory project.

There was also funding for Newtongrange Community Council to buy boxes to store public access defibrillators and for the Community Education Centre’s First Aid training courses for the public.

Nicky Wilson, Scottish Trustee of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust said: “It’s good to see the heavy emphasis on trying to do more for local young people, with a lot of Smile for Shellie’s objectives addressing issues raised in the public response to the plan. I wish Newtongrange every success in delivering such a comprehensive Community Action Plan.”

Ron Campbell of Newtongrange Community Council was at the launch, he said: “In the main the funding went to the younger groups which is a good thing, a lot of young people took part in the survey and the open day, it was mobbed. It is really important that they get involved as it’s their children and grandchildren that will be here in 50 years time.”

Ron hopes the five year plan joins up with other initiatives in the village:

“I think it’s a good thing for the village, it’s brought to the fore a lot of what was in the Newtongrange Neighbourhood Plan in 2014. And some of the things can be incorporated into the regeneration of the village centre, a new community hall is one such thing. It needs the community to get together and say what we want.”