Public helps build a new future for Silverburn

Some of those who attended the workshop at Carberry House in Leven to discuss development of Silverburn with FEAT.
Some of those who attended the workshop at Carberry House in Leven to discuss development of Silverburn with FEAT.

A HIGHLY competent job was done at a workshop focusing on one of Leven’s proudest assets.

Fife Employment Action Trust (FEAT) staged the sessions on Thursday to allow idea-sharing and discussion on how best to take forward Silverburn Park and preserve its enjoyment for future generations.

As principal developer of the park and its facilities, FEAT has the physical and mental wellbeing of the community at its heart.

As well as recapturing Silverburn’s former glory, through the wishes of local people, it is also concerned with boosting work opportunities for people with disabilities or mental health problems, as part of its wide-ranging brief.

The group is working immediately on a report after last week’s meeting and hopes to make a start by spring on some of the short-term objectives.

Long-treasured memories of the animal sanctuary and mini-farm at Silverburn pushed an animal centre to the top of many people’s wish list, but there was a broad range of other suggestions too.

It was thought the fields could be leased to local horse owners, whose equine pets might rein in visitors, while there should be a play area for people of all ages.

Silverburn could also be the venue for a music festival or art/music workshop.

Contributors said it was important the facitliy was inclusive of everyone and inter-generational in its approach.

A forest school is another possibility – an outdoor classroom, using the land in various ways as an educational resource.

Access to Silverburn, along with health and safety, and finance for the projects, were obviously significant issues.

It was important to get the right balance too over health and safety – a common-sense approach to keeping people safe was needed, without regulations being over-restrictive.

The working groups expected to liaise with Fife Council’s transportation section, and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, among others, over developments.

Some visitors felt the park should be zoned to avoid any conflict between the recreational side and the natural elements, with proper woodland management and designated quiet areas among the main needs.

Suggestions also included a residential training centre, decent interpretation and information provision, and a link to the Fife Coastal Path to get more visitors in.

Silverburn should also have a commitment to lifelong learning and be promoted as a venue for school trips, to interest schools outwith Fife.

Superb passion on show

FEAT general manager Duncan Mitchell and his colleagues were impressed by the desire and willingness of local people to revitalise Silverburn.

Their fondness for the place shone through at Thursday’s meeting and there was a very diverse assortment of ideas put forward, they said.

Mr Mitchell (right), said: ”We have a lot of things we would like to to do – a lot of ideas from people mirrored our own.”

Many at the workshop had attended a walk around the site earlier in the day and Mr Mitchell said there was an overwhelming passion for Silverburn from many different sections of the community, varying in age and background.

Project leader Aiveen Ryan added there was great energy and everyone was “totally engaged” with the venture.

FEAT itself was founded in 1994 by a group of people determined to end what they saw as ‘second-class citizen’ treatment of people who’d had mental health difficulties, and the problems they often encountered in trying to find proper paid work.

Over the years, it developed a reputation for working with very influential groups in terms of getting people with mental health issues into employment, and accessing large-scale funding for projects.