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Barra and Benbecula pupils secure funding for local projects

Pupils from Barra and Benbecula have raised thousands of pounds for local causes, thanks to a national community empowerment programme.

The students from Castlebay Community School and Sgoil Lionacleit secured grants of £3000 each for Voluntary Action Barra and Vatersay, and the Uist and Barra Foodbank through the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI).

YPI is supported by CalMac as a local funding partner. The delivery and engagement of The Wood Foundation programme is also supported by Volunteer Centre Western Isles (VCWI).

Third year students from Castlebay profiled the work of Voluntary Action Barra and Vatersay's Bus Bharraigh, highlighting the role the electric bus service plays in reducing carbon emissions and keeping the community connected. Pupils from Sgoil Lionacleit highlighted the vital role of the Uist and Barra Foodbank.

YPI is an active citizenship programme which empowers young people to make a difference in their community about causes which they care about. Through a unique programme of teamwork, research and competition, an entire year group takes part and one team is chosen to secure the grant.

Rebecca, an S3 pupil on the winning team at Castlebay, said: "It never crossed my mind the extent that Voluntary Action would go to help other people, it has really opened my eyes to see how hard these people work to help the older generation as well as providing fun and exciting opportunities for the younger generation.

"YPI has helped improve my team-working and presentation skills and helped me become more informed about our local community. It has also helped improve my confidence overall and particularly my confidence in sharing my opinions and views with other people.

"In the beginning, Voluntary Action was made to improve the island and to give the next generation bigger and better experiences and things to do. If they hadn't. Barra would not be the same. So, thank you to Barra and Vatersay Voluntary Action for making Barra, our Barra."

Suzanne Forman, Head Teacher at Castlebay, added: "Once again, we are delighted to have participated in YPI. I would like to express my thanks to all the S3 pupils and to their teacher Claire Rafferty who coordinated the programme within the school. For the first time with YPI, the youngsters were challenged by having to present to the judges online. This they did with confidence and maturity, despite a few technical glitches! Well done to everyone involved, and congratulations to Bus Bharraigh."  

Marion Garbutt, teacher at Sgoil Lionacleit, said:  "It's been an absolute pleasure to lead the YPI project at Sgoil Lionacleit this session. It's been a challenging year for young people and this project has given them the opportunity to explore social issues in their community when they are at their most apparent. It was also an opportunity for them to explore and develop their own skills while doing something meaningful for their community. The Wood Foundation and the Volunteer Centre Western Isles have been incredibly supportive throughout the project and we look forward to taking part again next session".

Other charities represented at the two YPI Showcases included Lasagan, Garadh a' Bhagh a' Tuath, Castlebay Hall, Balivanich Community Area Leisure Group, Southend Community Hall, Tagsa Uibhist, and Tall an Lochdair.

Suzanne MacAuley of VCWI said: "We would like to thank the representatives of these charities for their time engaging with young people and raising awareness."

CalMac's regional support of YPI sees it partner with 10 schools including the Nicolson Institute, Sir E Scott School, Sgoil Lionacleit and Castlebay. Its team often acts as judges at school's finals, as well as offering mentoring support to finalist teams to refine their presentations.

Gordon McKillop, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for CalMac, said: "Young people are increasingly more aware of social issues and the effect on the lives of people in their communities. YPI is a wonderful example of partnership working and we are proud that our people support the young people involved progress through the programme and make a difference in their local area."

More than 200 schools in Scotland will complete YPI this academic year. Since it was launched in Scotland by The Wood Foundation in 2008 it has empowered more than 200,000 young people to make a difference in their communities, granting in excess of £4.5m to local charities addressing a range of social issues.

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