Bid to restart Islesburgh Youth Club

Parents and youth workers are appealing for cash and volunteers to help get Islesburgh Youth Club off the ground again.

The club is due to re-start on a limited basis on Wednesday 16th April after a council cost-cutting exercise saw two-thirds of the club’s part-time youth workers paid off last weekend.

Back (from left): Youth club volunteer Lynsey Henry, treasurer Tommy Williamsonand  youth development worker Sheriene Rennie. Front: youth workers Katie Henderson and Cara McDiarmid. Photo: Peter Johnson
Back (from left): Youth club volunteer Lynsey Henry, treasurer Tommy Williamsonand youth development worker Sheriene Rennie. Front: youth workers Katie Henderson and Cara McDiarmid. Photo: Peter Johnson

However, the club will be reduced to one night a week – normally Wednesday – with primary and junior youth clubs running con­secutively with two supervising youth workers backed by parent volunteers.

The primary four to seven junior club will run from 6.30pm to 8pm while the seniors – secondary one and over – will be 8pm till 9.30pm.

Normally around 45 children attend the club, but that number can swell to more than 60 on Fridays. Guidelines say that each youth worker should supervise a maxi­mum of 15 bairns. Meanwhile a “peerie” club for primary threes and under has ceased to exist alto­gether.

The club, which formed a new management committee in Feb­ruary, is also searching for money after a £1,400 grant bid was unex­pectedly turned down by the SIC. Islesburgh is now, committee mem­bers claim, the sole youth club in Shetland to be running only one-night-per-week and the only one to have been turned down for grant funding.

Chairwoman Nicola Stove said that the club had been misled regarding the grant application: the bid was rejected on the grounds of coming from a new committee in a “transition year”, when the club says it had formed the committee on the back of council advice.

“We were led to believe that there would be no problem with the grant,” she said. “We have the biggest club with the most bairns but we are not getting any sup­port.”

Islesburgh had been among the last of the youth clubs to lose SIC funding with the result it was also the last to set up a new management committee. This had the knock-on effect, Ms Stove claimed, of leaving it too late to access grant funding.

The rejection also left the club without time to apply to the Big Lottery and other funding sources before the youth workers were paid off.

As a result, the committee has been left scraping for funds, but the council has agreed to pay for the hire of Islesburgh until August. Ms Stove meanwhile has paid for membership of Youth Scotland out of her own pocket while treasurer Tommy Williamson has set up an account with JW Grays for the tuckshop.

There are also various bids for funding being made to local businesses while it is proposed to charge an attendance fee of £1 for the youth club, with a proposed annual membership of £10 for children of volunteers and £20 for children of non-volunteers. The membership for families of two or more children has been capped at £20.

Any parent who wants to volunteer can get a registration form from Mr Williamson who can be contacted on tommy or (01595) 690784.


Add Your Comment
  • Jenny Henry

    • April 4th, 2014 0:46

    I’m pleased this situation has been brought to the public’s attention, but I think some slight inaccuracies in Peter’s story need clarified.

    All of Shetland’s youth clubs/centres have been affected by the SIC cuts, and in fact two-thirds of all of Shetland’s 123 part-time youth workers have been paid off. The change for all clubs and workers came about at the end of March. I think the percentage of Islesburgh workers who opted for voluntary redundancy is probably nearer 80+ per cent, and Katie is the only existing Islesburgh worker to remain at that club; the others (only two that I know of) have been moved to other clubs in the islands.

    I’m not sure that Islesburgh will be the sole club to operate on only one night per week, but what is a major change is the number of weeks per year clubs will operate. In Islesburgh’s case it was agreed to reduce club timings so the club can open for 35 weeks (instead of 50 previously), and in rural areas some clubs will be open only 12 or 24 times a year, although I believe there are some ‘extra hours’ that can be used for one-off or special events.

    By the way, the reason Islesburgh didn’t have a management committee is because when the SIC disbanded the Islesburgh Trust and took back ‘control’ of Islesburgh in 2006, the then management committee, which also represented the youth club, was deemed unnecessary and ceased to operate. Ironic then that the SIC has now declined to properly support what was once the best ‘community’ facility in the islands. Harold Leask will be turning in his grave!


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