Newbattle Abbey College awards youngsters for woodland management course

Young adults receiving their Saltire awards at Newbattle Abbey College, Dalkeith''In. Pic .''''(c) Wullie Marr Photography
Young adults receiving their Saltire awards at Newbattle Abbey College, Dalkeith''In. Pic .''''(c) Wullie Marr Photography

Twelve young adults, aged between 15 and 17 years old, have completed a woodland management up-skilling course to help increase their self-confidence, skills and employability.

The course, which was delivered by Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust (ELGT) in conjunction with Newbattle Abbey College at Craigmillar Castle Park, and supported by Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), aims to teach participants the processes of woodland and park management, including tree pruning and planting.

Participants entered the course through YouthBuild, which is Action for Children’s construction-based programme aimed at young adults, who have faced barriers to entering employment. Through a supported approach, participants can gain qualifications, experience and secure employment within the construction industry.

Ben McCallum, community woodland engagement officer at ELGT, said: “Leaving school and securing employment can be a challenging time for young adults and sometimes there are underlying issues that might prevent people from entering and sustaining employment.

“We’ve therefore worked closely with Action for Children, Forestry Commission Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council to create and deliver an alternative course to help adults who are affected achieve practical qualifications.

“Being out in the woodlands enables the participants to put their manual skills to good practice, whilst boosting their confidence in a familiar environment.”

Upon completion of the up-skilling course, the 12 participants were presented with a Saltire Award, awarded by Newbattle Abbey College. The Saltire Awards are the Scottish Government’s way of celebrating, recognising and rewarding the commitment, contribution and achievements of young volunteers in Scotland, aged between 12 and 25.

Sasha Laing, regulations and development manager at FCS, said: “Achieving a Saltire Award highlights the commitment and hard work the YouthBuild participants have put into the up-skilling course over the past 12 weeks.

“It is a great way for them to boost their self-confidence and gain new skills, whilst reaping the general health benefits of being outdoors.

“We are continually working to promote Scotland’s greenspaces, as well as supporting local communities. This up-skilling course encompassed both, helping young adults to develop a career whilst teaching them the value and effort that goes into managing their local woodland areas.”

James Dickson, a YouthBuild participant, added: “The up-skilling course is one of the most beneficial things I’ve ever done. I enjoyed learning new skills that will help me find a job in the future.

“It’s also helped with my team building and communication skills. I’m now looking forward to finding out more about the Rural Skills Course at Newbattle Abbey College.”