Girvan youth hub faces closure due to funding struggle

GOOD SPORTS: Many youngsters have benefitted from the fun and games at Glendoune.
GOOD SPORTS: Many youngsters have benefitted from the fun and games at Glendoune.

FITNESS, confidence, and guidance to stay on the straight and narrow. Those are the qualities that Girvan’s Glendoune Centre has instilled in youngsters from the town’s most troubled streets for the past four years.

But despite the activity centre boasting more regular visitors than ever, the youth hub could face closure by the end of 2013 if funds are not forthcoming.

Located on Piedmont Road, the Glendoune Centre is set at the heart of one of the most deprived areas in South Ayrshire.

The Glendoune district, southeast of Girvan town centre, was declared more deprived than areas of Govanhill, Tollcross, and Drumchapel in Glasgow by the latest Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation – the results of which were revealed in December – with one neighbourhood featured within the top 10 per cent most deprived communities in Scotland, and a further two ranking within the top 15 per cent.

The area has had its problems with graffiti, antisocial behaviour, vandalism, drugs, and underage drinking. But centre staff say their running simple, local activities has helped keep youngsters off the streets.

Sports coaches Darren Orr and Tommy Connelly both hold down part-time jobs, but under the guidance of Glendoune Association chairwoman Angela Isdale, the pair dedicate two evenings a week to running activities for six to 12-year-olds, as well as running a Monday night friendly football league for 13-21s.

While the centre itself can offer x-box, table football, and other activities suitable during Girvan’s regular inclement weather, Darren and Tommy also organise outdoor games on a nearby multi-use games area (Muga), and plan to lead orienteering as soon as climatic conditions allow.

“There is no hope for a lot of the boys we see,” said Tommy. “They have no money and we have got nothing in Girvan really for the kids to do. We have not even got an Astroturf, where even Maybole does.

“Some of the kids are still at school, but a lot of the older boys don’t work and it gives them a focus – keeps them fit, and gives them a bit of belief a something to do,” Darren added. “It gets them down the right path.”

But despite around 70 kids regularly attending Muga activities, including those from nearby villages such as Dailly and Maidens, the centre’s various clubs could soon fold as funding threatens to tail off completely.

While the team admit money available was quite encouraging during the first six months of the scheme’s operations, the purse strings have grown ever-tighter since.

The Centre‘s last regular income having just ended, and no guarantee of their latest funding applications paying off, keen mums, dads, and grandparents’ efforts to drive up donations through bag-packing are simply not going to address cash concerns for much longer.

“It’s getting harder and harder to make successful applications,” Tommy said. “We were hoping with the Olympics there might be more funding coming our way for sport-related things, but so far it hasn’t really happened. The funding just isn’t there.”

Girvan and South Carrick SNP councillor Alec Oattes shared the team’s concerns, and confirmed he was working with South Ayrshire Council officers on various funding options in the hope of keeping the “valuable asset” operational.

“I am anxious that this worthwhile facility which encourages healthy activities is able to continue,” he said.

The Glendoune team are looking for more fundraising ideas or potential sources of community cash, but admit their real weakness lies in complying with complicated and often lengthy funding processes.

“We don’t have the skills, and often don’t know what is actually required,” said Darren. “We really need someone who knows their way around it who could help us on a voluntary basis.”

“We have a good batch of boys and girls and we want to keep it going. It’s not a short-term plan. Any help would be much appreciated,” said Tommy.

Anyone who feels they could help the Glendoune team with accessing funding should contact the Glendoune Centre on 01465 715302, or email Angela Isdale at Muga activities run on Friday, Sunday and Monday evenings from 4-6pm, and the “fitba” friendly football league is at Hamilton Park on Monday evenings from 7-9pm.