Youth initiative is Bill’s achievement

The Bill Russell Woodburn Youth Project meets in the MARC building in Dalkeith
The Bill Russell Woodburn Youth Project meets in the MARC building in Dalkeith

The Bill Russell Woodburn Youth Project came as an idea following the death of my husband in January 2005, writes Councillor Margot Russell.

Bill had been a councillor for Woodburn and we used to speak about lack of activities for young people.

The idea was to create a drop in facility to attract young people from the area as a legacy in his name.

With help from MVA we got a constitution together and a management committee. We also needed staff, and I was fortunate that there were people with the skills and experience within the community willing to work with us. In October 2007, with assistance from Y2K in Mayfield and support from Richard Vivian, manager of MARC at 10 Woodburn Road, we opened the drop in on Saturday nights.

We took over the Woodburn Young Bike Workshop from the Dalkeith Community Association. It works out of a portacabin next to the MARC building. Staff are trained in bike maintenance and provide cheap second-hand bikes and cheap repairs. People kindly donate bikes and all money raised goes back into buying parts, etc. This is open on Fridays from 1.30-4pm.

Sadly we suffered a break in and equipment was stolen, but the community rallied round and games and equipment were donated. So something positive come out of the criminal actions of a few people.

Our latest venture has been making a DVD, funded by Coalfields Community Futures. The young people who took part got a lot out of the work and we may see some budding photographers in the future.

I did not envisage that we would be still providing a service almost nine years later, but here we are! We have had our ups and downs though, with funding being a constant challenge as is the case with many small charities.

However, the ideal is still the same, working with young people to better their lives by giving them more self worth and confidence. We open on Saturdays from 5.30-8pm offering snooker, Xbox and Wii for young people aged 10-14.

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