KIRKCALDY’S Gallatown has long been seen as an area overlooked by those in charge of the purse strings in the town, with most of the money going to other places.
But over the past year there have been some welcome developments, with the Gallatown being given its own project worker who has been working alongside residents to see what they think is needed in their local community.
And, as well as running cookery and computer classes, gardening groups and a fruit and veg co-op, Link Up the Gallatown has started up two new youth clubs on Tuesday evenings, giving youngsters something to keep them occupied and off the streets.
A junior and senior youth club is held on Tuesday evenings in Gallatown Park Bowling Club, with arts and crafts, pool, computer games, outdoor activities and simple cookery lessons on offer.
It is assisted by youth workers from Kirkcaldy YMCA and parents who give their time voluntarily.
One of the mums said: “My kids really enjoy it and it gets them out doing something fun for a couple of hours a week.”
Another said: “I have lived in the Gallatown for over 10 years and this is the first time we have something like this for the kids. It’s great.
“I really look forward to coming along too every week.”
In addition a youth’s bike group which started up in October last year, has seen teenagers from Viewforth and St Andrews High Schools offering to repair the bikes of others living in and around the Gallatown.
And, after receiving a welcome donation of 20 unwanted bikes from Bike Works in Glenrothes, the group has been able to offer bikes to people needing them for long or short term use.
The club has helped forge bonds among youngsters in the area through the classes and the bike club has taken part in trips and is also in the process of trying to create a bike track where they can do stunts and jumps on a piece of land adjacent to the Gallatown Park Bowling Club where it meets on a regular basis.
With help from Gary Hughes (39), known to everyone as Shuggy, a project worker from Kirkcaldy YMCA who is heading Link Up the Gallatown, they are seeking grants and funding to help them realise their dream of creating the special facility on land which was previously used by the bowling club for one of its greens, but which it gave up after being unable to afford to maintain two greens.
George Kyriacou (15), said: “We went along to an event in the town square last year and there was a guy showing people how to fix bikes. We held sessions to learn how to do it ourselves and then helped teach other people, and it has just grown from there.”
Shuggy explained: “The Gallatown Bike Club has been a great success and could lead to bigger things for the lads who set it up.
“They are really enthusiastic about it and have worked hard at learning bike maintenance to enable them to help other people in their community.
“We managed to get some funds to hold eight weeks of bike maintenance classes on a Wednesday night and the five teenagers who took part really enjoyed it, so we set up the bike club. Another session was held with Dr Bike from Aberdour with another 14 taking part, and we got hold of some second hand bikes which they have done up as well as a donation from Bike Works to give to people in the area who could make good use of them.
“The boys have gone on to do sports leader awards for bikes and we are now working on getting funds to build a bike pump track, working with the people who did the Middle Den bike trails.”
Link Up is a two year programme which started last April, with the aim of supporting people to get together in their community.
It is trying to increase opportunities for individuals in communities to come together, get to know different people, participate and help each other. It does this by facilitating simple activities - suggested and developed by the community - and exploring how this can increase social networks, confidence and self-esteem.
Shuggy said: “The most important thing is that it’s people in the community who are driving these projects and putting in time, effort, enthusiasm and passion into them. Small local community groups like GESTRA, Overton Community Centre and the Gallatown Park Bowling Club have been fantastic in supporting Link Up over the past year and are coming together and working together to help foster a great sense of community spirit and achievement, supported by other professionals and council officers.”