The lives of dozens of young people in Levenmouth have been transformed thanks to the help of a new Community Trade Hub.
The hub, based at the former Free Gardeners Hall in Buckhaven, opened late last year. The aim of the scheme is to train up young people, teaching them skills which could help them secure jobs in the construction industry.
Since it launched, around 50 clients have learned new skills – of them 36 to pass through the hub’s training programme, 28 have gone on to positive destinations, such as work or apprenticeships.
The clients spend two weeks based at the hub, where they can learn a variety of skills, from tiling to joinery. After this, they go on a six-week placement.
The hall has been transformed, with work stations installed, a huge mezzanine constructed offering office space, a computer room created, and much more.
While the team behind the hub has received some backing, including £10,000 from Fife Council, it hopes to be self-sustainable in a year.
This will be achieved by securing contracts which will generate work for the trainees and funds that can be used to support the hub.
For Kenny McAllister, one of the founding directors, the main benefit of the hub is how it helps the young people who come through, many of whom have left school with little to no qualifications.
“It’s a shame that we are waiting until they have left school and are isolated in the community, causing bother, with no qualifications,” he said.
“They come here and they are engaged. We’re moving them to work placements or jobs. But we need to engage with them at an earlier stage so they can see what is here. We can try to get them on the straight and narrow.
“They are learning respect and their confidence is improving. They are more determined.”
The hub has secured contracts that will create further training and employment routes.
Because the Community Trade Hub is a not-for-profit organisation, profit made in the future from the contracts could then be used to support other local organisations.
The team is also looking at starting night and weekend classes to offer more support. Anyone interested in joining these is encouraged to get in touch through the Facebook page or by dropping in to the hub.
“We’ve made a significant impact in the area,” explained Kenny. “We’ve helped a lot of people move into positive destinations. And we’ve got many links through contracts. Once these come off, we can look at helping other organisations and recruit for employment.
“Now that we’re here, these kids have been able to engage with something. It’s vital that we get the support we need so we can continue to help other people in the area.”
Ronnie Ross, Levenmouth Academy rector, is among those who have been down to the hub to see first-hand the work that is being done.
He told the Mail he was looking to identify funding so that the school could foster a partnership with the trade hub.
“It is just the experience some young people need to remain engaged in learning,” Ronnie explained.
“It was fantastic seeing young people who found some aspects of school life difficult doing so well in this work-like environment.
“The young people I met at the hub just blew me away. It was genuinely a pleasure to see them doing so well. They were really keen to show me what they had been doing and again I was so impressed.”
Councillor Ryan Smart visited the Community Trade Hub last week. He praised the staff for doing an “outstanding job in such a little amount of time”.
He added: “They have helped young people from gain new skills and hopefully gave them new positive destinations. Levenmouth is in desperate need of projects like this and we must do everything we can to support them in their cause and get as many young people through their doors as we can.”