Silverburn supported by FEAT’s strength

Silverburn Park, Leven
Silverburn Park, Leven

A GROUP which prommotes better work opportunities for people with mental health problems has been chosen to helm a new start for Silverburn.

Fife Employment Access Trust (FEAT) ​has been identified by Fife Council as its principal partner on the much-publicised issue of Silverburn Park’s future management and maintenance.

The authority has for some time been seeking a group to manage the asset, via private investment on a long-term, lease-only basis, while following as closely as possible the principles of the park’s bequest to the Leven community nearly 40 years ago.

The council selected FEAT after talks earlier this year with five interested parties.

FEAT was formed in 1994 by a small group of people – some disabled or with experience of mental health conditions – who were concerned at the lack of job opportunities for people in Fife with disabilities or mental health afflictions.

They believed most disabled people, including those encountering mental health difficulties, were treated as second-class citizens by being denied the chance to contribute to the workplace.

FEAT decided its mission would be to develop opportunities for people with long-term mental health problems to enable them to obtain and sustain real paid work, with ongoing support where needed.

It’s understood FEAT’s vision for Silverburn will cover the broad focus of wellbeing.

Its specific plans have not yet been revealed, although a start could be made early in 2013.

FEAT has meetings arranged shortly with the council, and its own board of directors, while further community consultation is also expected.

Other agreements also need to be reached by the council before a lease is confirmed.

But the authority was impressed enough with the scope of FEAT’s plans to declare it the preferred partner, while other groups, including national agencies, may also be helping it to deliver its aims.

Dave Paterson, Fife Council’s area services manager for Levenmouth, said FEAT had worked with some very influential groups in getting people with mental health issues back to work and had shown itself to be very capable of accessing “large-scale funding for good-quality projects over the years”.

With a flexible approach to Silverburn’s potential, added Mr Paterson, FEAT’s aims were very close to the terms of the bequest and public assess was likely to be a core part of its business.

“It will be a wide-ranging business plan,” he added.

FEAT’s general manager, Duncan Mitchell, preferred not to comment until after the forthcoming board meeting and talks with the council.

However, he told the Mail: “We’re very excited about the opportunities that Silverburn presents.”