Pudsey gives his seal of approval to youth project

LESS than a week after Connect came into being the new Berwickshire wide youth project created by the merger of Duns Youth Centre and Coldstream Youth Project has received the biggest seal of approval from Pudsey bear who is about to burst onto our television screens once again for Children in Need’s major fundraising spectacular on BBC 1.

When watching next Friday, November 18, wonder no longer where the money goes - Children in Need have given a £72,000 three year grant to help Connect provide opportunities for Berwickshire youngsters, plus another £960 went to the Highway Day Nursery in Eyemouth earlier this year.

Connect manager Steve Wright said: “We are obviously delighted with this grant. This will mean we can continue to offer youth groups in Duns and Coldstream but also to develop youth work in Eyemouth.”

Funding youth projects has become very difficult recently, and local services have often had an uncertain future prompting the Duns and Coldstream groups to join forces. The official date of the merger was November 1, and Connect has already attracted funding from Lloyds TSB Foundation and the Tudor Trust; this latest success putting the newly created project, run by experienced and well qualified staff, on a firmer financial footing.

As well as youngsters in Coldstream and Duns benefiting from youth services Connect has already moved into Eyemouth, running an outreach worker service providing one-to-one support for some of the town’s most challenged and challenging youngsters.

The plan is to consolidate the current services and gradually develop youth opportunities for youngsters in some of Berwickshire’s smaller settlements, and so far funders are supporting these aims.

In Eyemouth, the decline of the fishing industry has impacted on all areas of life and at the Highway Day Nursery they were finding that the activities they had been doing with the children, such as taking them swimming and getting dance and football coaches in to develop the children’s confidence and keep them active and healthy, were proving too expensive for some of the parents.

The Children in Need grant they received in February has been spent on fun swimming sessions and football at the nursery.

“We do see a marked improvement in many of the children,” said Cheryl Duggan who runs Highway Day Nursery.

“The swimming is a fun session, there’s no pressure on the children to perform, and gradually they get braver, from sitting on the steps to putting their face under water. They really have grown in confidence, so you hope that will encourage them to go swimming in future.

“We have been able to reach the families that were struggling and because the parents knew we had the grant it took the pressure off them.”

This year Scotland is aiming to raise even more money for BBC Children in Need as applications for grants to help children were four times more than the £4.7 million had to offer.

Fraser Falconer, head of BBC Children in Need Scotland, said: “The Scottish public have always been incredibly generous in their support for BBC Children in Need.

“We recognise the difficult financial climate this year, however each penny that is donated makes a difference to thousands of children across Scotland who are disadvantaged.”

And next Friday Highway Day Nursery children and staff will be out in Eyemouth doing their bit to raise money for Children in Need.