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Back issue: Tuesday, 6th February 2007 Change DateLatest Issue

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Edinburgh Evening News Tue 6 Feb 2007
GAME ON: Staff member Olivia Beddard at the new...

GAME ON: Staff member Olivia Beddard at the new centre, funded with a £100,000 donation from the Wooden Spoon foundation. PICTURE: Stuart Cobley

Vandal-hit youth club gets a fresh start in new premises


A YOUTH club which was driven from its home by vandal and arson attacks has moved into a new base thanks to a £100,000 donation from a rugby charity.

Ex-Scotland rugby star Gavin Hastings will open the "bfriends" project's new home in Craigmillar on Thursday, 18 months after it was forced to quit its old home.

A series of vandal attacks culminating in a serious fire led the youth club, which is run by the Children 1st charity, to leave its old base at the Jack Kane Centre.

Since then, the group has been forced to use makeshift accommodation in a former woodwork and metalwork classroom.

Now, the 100 or so five to 16-year-olds who use the club have moved into new premises at the Castlebrae Business Centre.

The former industrial unit has been fitted out with £100,000 presented by the Wooden Spoon foundation, whose honorary president is Mr Hastings.

The cash has also enabled the club to buy a 17-seat minibus - a replacement for one that was torched by vandals two years ago.

Youngsters at the centre have been involved in its planning for more than a year, and have chosen all the designs for its interior. They have also specified what equipment they want in the club.

More than 30 children use the centre daily and work together with older volunteers in shared activities and excursions.

Neil Mathers, bfriends' service manager, said: "We're absolutely delighted to be in this fantastic base. For 18 months, we've been in a temporary unit that used to get used by people learning carpentry and metalwork.

"It has been completely overhauled and we are already seeing the centre being used by more and more youngsters in the area.

He added: "We've seen a big change in the atmosphere of the place. Young people want to come here and the feedback we have got from everyone so far has been great. The centre has been a big investment, but it will really help the service to develop."

The bfriends club has been running in Craigmillar for the past 20 years and spent nine years at the Jack Kane Centre before it was relocated to Castlebrae. A special plaque will be unveiled by officials from Wooden Spoon and Children 1st during the centre's official opening.

Mr Hastings said: "Wooden Spoon exists to help improve the quality of life for disadvantaged young people and we are very pleased to have been able to support this very worthwhile project.

"The bfriends initiative is making a real difference to young lives, and Children 1st will now be able to build on their achievements. I'm sure everyone involved will benefit from the welcoming environment at Castlebrae."

The Wooden Spoon charity was set up by a group of England rugby fans following the 1983 Five Nations championships, when their team finished in last place.

It is now an official rugby-backed charity supporting mentally, physically and socially disadvantaged children and young people. Supported by current and former players, it has raised more £11 million for projects for children and young people.

This article: http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=196312007

Last updated: 06-Feb-07 14:47 BST


Want to read yourself in print? Every day the Evening News publishes a selection of online comments on the letters page of the paper. Pick up a copy to see if your views have been published.

1. The Judge / 2:13pm 6 Feb 2007

I'll give it a week before its either burned to the ground or the minibus has been stolen and wrecked near Greendykes.

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2. comin / 2:18pm 6 Feb 2007

You think it will take that long??!!

The brats in that area (I'm from Niddrie so dont say I dont know), say they have nothing to do. Hardly a surprise if they're burning or breaking everything that has been put there for them.

Bunch of oxygen thiefs. I dread to think what thier kids will be like.

Now, if we could do away with them at a rate of one a day, just how long would it take for them to get the picture that their behaviour is not acceptable. Come on the Scot exec, just one a day. Please?

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3. Angus R / 2:18pm 6 Feb 2007

A week?

Are all the vandals in the area on holiday til then?

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4. alex paterson, embra / 2:51pm 6 Feb 2007

Lets not give into the vandals,They are nothings,Where as the people who want to use the youth club premises are the the worthwhile cause.

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5. James Moore, Edinburgh / 3:16pm 6 Feb 2007

A complete waste of time and money!

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6. The Judge / 3:17pm 6 Feb 2007

Lets not give into the vandals.

Im sorry to tell you alex we already have given in to the neds and vandals. Unfortunatly this youth club will become a massive target for every ned in Craigmillar and beyond. They'll want to be the one that can brag to their mates that it was them that burned the place to the ground. And because they know they'll only get a slap on the wrists in the unlikey event they are caught there is nothing to stop them.

I feel sorry for any child that has to grow up in Craigmillar who wants to go straight and enjoy their childhood.

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7. Big G / 4:25pm 6 Feb 2007

£100k down the drain.

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8. Scaramouche / 4:59pm 6 Feb 2007

It is possible to grow up a decent person in the Craigmillar area. They're not ALL thieves and crims and druggies.

The secret is not to hang around inside the locality too much. Make friends outside of the area and spend as little time there as possible. I know three people from Craigmillar, still live there, but have never hung around it much. That's why they've grown up to be honest and hard-working individuals.

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9. Tam O' Shanter, Alloway / 6:35pm 6 Feb 2007

That Olivia in the photae is awfy bonny.
I wunner if she has a boyfriend?

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10. Lord Lucan / 1:26am 7 Feb 2007

Watch, the minivan will be nicked and used on the cigarette-smuggling trips abroad. And they'll have nice new premises to sell them in now too. I suppose the neds down there will stop burning out cars now they've got a new centre to go to.
What planet are we living on?

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11. bill inch, edinburgh / 1:55am 7 Feb 2007

round them all up and put them on a luxury liner,take it far out to sea. Then torpedo the liner, pick up the survivors and put them on a liner!!!!!!

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12. Pete39, Tassy / 8:33am 7 Feb 2007

No, it is a good scene and you have to go through the motions. As an old guy I used to know would say, "reach for the stars, even if you just hit the ceiling". It is a good move.

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Commenting on this article has closed.