An innovative outreach programme has seen 29 young people in Fife complete a series of demanding physical challenges and teamwork activities, to help divert them from offending and antisocial behaviour.
Youth Advantage Outreach is funded by the Scottish Government, run by British Army and supported locally by Police Scotland, Fife Council, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Sacro and Clued-Up.
Central Fife Crime Prevention Panel has also provided a financial contribution towards transport, activities and provisions.
The course is residential and involves spending the week at the army barracks at Barry Buddon Training Camp near Carnoustie.
The young people involved are referred from a variety of services, along with a self-referral system. Some participants have been selected for their interest in the physical challenges the programme brings, while others have been recommended due to offending and/or antisocial behaviour.
Major Adrian Williams said: “Youth Advantage Outreach allows young people to experience what life is like in the army, including early wake-ups, rooms inspections and structured activities.
“These include physical challenges including raft building and rock climbing, to cooking in the field, fire safety and building a camp. Plus, on the final night, we have an overnight exercise where the young people complete an operation and sleep under the stars.”
A range of partners are involved in the residential trip, including an army instructor, a police officer and Fife Community Safety Partnership’s development officer. There are inputs on a variety of social subjects including drugs and alcohol, fire safety and internet safety, allowing time for discussion and learning alongside the physically challenging activities.
Peer mentoring forms an important part of the programme’s approach. A previous YAO participant attends, and takes responsibility for organising activities and motivating the participants.
Peer mentor Fraser Burnett said: “During my time at Barry Budden last year I was given opportunities that I would otherwise not have been able to experience. Things such as being able to meet a fantastic team behind making the whole week possible, meeting characters from all walks of life such as the Army, Police, Fire Service, British Red Cross and many other groups,
“I was also able to meet a wide variety of young people, some of whom I made great friendships with. The week also allowed me to test myself on things like my ability to work in a team, work independently and adapt to match my environment and current situation.
“Overall I would say that the experience was a tremendous one that I would definitely recommend to any given the chance to take it. All staff were fantastic and I was extremely grateful to be given an opportunity to do it all again as a peer mentor.”
Attending the presentation ceremony, Councillor David Graham, vice chairman of Fife’s Safer Communities Committee, applauded the programme’s holistic approach.
“I am delighted to attend this graduation ceremony for Youth Advantage Outreach,” he said. “All of the participants have shown valuable skills in teamwork, discipline and motivation and should be very proud of their achievements.”