Fund name: EDF-ER Burnfoot Cluster (Burnfoot Hill, Burnfoot North, Rhodders)
Fund donor: EDF Renewables
Technology: Onshore wind
Annual fund value: £90,000 (index linked)
Year of fund commencement: 2011
Fund area of benefit: the community council areas of Alva, Dollar, Menstrie and Tillicoultry in Clackmannanshire; and Blackford and the hamlet of Glendevon in Perth and Kinross.
Purpose of award: To find ways to better support children and young people’s visions and voices.
Value of award: £15,000.
Dates(s) of award(s): May 2017.

Summary

OYCI is a youth led social enterprise making change happen locally and entirely driven by young people’s participation. Already the group of young people involved with OYCI are seeing real, positive, change at local level as a result of their participation including: launching a drama club, organising community clean ups, running a study club, developing enterprise initiatives, organising a drop in youth space and improving access to sports facilities.

OYCI evolved from a large-scale youth led consultation involving 570 young people across the Hillfoots to understand what they wanted to see change in their community. From this the OYCI team members made a whole host of recommendations and are now taking forward lots of these ideas and putting them into action.

Watch a video about OYCI.

Background

EDF’s cluster of wind farms in the Ochil Hills provide a community fund that benefits several villages and small towns which are collectively known locally as the Hillfoots villages. In 2016, the community panel that oversees the fund reviewed awards made in the previous two years and, as part of this, identified low levels of spend on activity that benefits children and young people. Related, service provision and engagement opportunities in the Hillfoots were felt to be increasingly limited for that same demographic.

Following discussions on the best way to begin addressing this, the Panel decided to commission some consultation work to find out what improvements young people would like to see in the area. An independent consultant with experience in working with young people was appointed, designed an action research process and recruited a group of 10-17 year olds from local schools to also get involved.

The group came together to share their ideas and learn about consultation and then consulted with hundreds of their peers on what they would like to see offered for young people in the area. In light of the group’s shared passion to make their community better, they named themselves Ochil Youth Community Improvement (OYCI). Their findings and recommendations were presented to the Fund Panel in February 2017, in the Improving Our Communities Consultation Report. The consultant has since set up OYCI Community Interest Company (CIC) in June 2017 to take forward many of the recommendations in that report.

Project aims and objectives

OYCI CIC was set up to provide a vehicle to harness and develop young people’s ideas and enable them to make real positive change in their local communities. It is supported by school staff from the primary and secondary schools, with ongoing input from independent consultants and a sessional youth worker paid for by the EDF Burnfoot Hill grant.

The organisation’s vision, mission and values, developed by the young people involved, are as follows.

  • Mission – We will focus on the ideas we recommend. We will put in the hard work needed and not give up. Team work will ensure that this will be fulfilled.
  • Vision – Our vision is to turn the dreams of a community into real opportunities.
  • Values – Perseverance, commitment, determination, creativity, courage, bravery, dynamic – move things forward. Commit time and energy. Equality. Recognise different needs. Respect each other.

Outcomes and achievements

From July 2017, the team established working structures and processes (see below), developing partnerships with local schools and other key stakeholders, identifying opportunities for activities and funding for those, and agreeing various coaching tools to support the young people involved and evaluate OYCI’s work.

At the start of the 2017/18 school year, five members of the team moved from primary school into secondary school at Alva Academy. They all asked to stay involved and reported OYCI has helped with their transition: “I knew the school and some of the older faces so it’s not as scary”. One team member who moved to an out-of-catchment school also asked to remain involved: “I want to stay involved as it is an opportunity to stay connected and continue to make my community better”. Only two members moved on, due to moving schools or other commitments, while new members were recruited from Strathdevon and Tillicoultry primary schools. Existing team members supported this process by sharing their reasons for getting involved with OYCI and what they had gotten out of the experience so far.

With the majority of the team now attending Alva Academy it was agreed that participants across all years could be in the same ‘Squad class’. This means they come together twice a week for dedicated time on OYCI activities within their scheduled timetables, enabling them to make things happen and providing an opportunity for those providing support to meet with the team. Alva Academy supplies a teacher to support this.

One-to-one coaching sessions have been held between the lead consultant and every OYCI member. The sessions focused on the skills and competencies the young person would like to develop and identifying how OYCI can provide them with opportunities to gain these.

Informed by their earlier consultation activity, the OYCI members then selected the priorities they would like to take forward. Small teams were established to focus on topics, as follows: Drama Club & Community Performance; Swimming; Enterprise and Marketing; Community Clean Up & Lighting, and; “Our Space” (youth club). The young people explored the current situation, what they want to achieve, and how to get there, and are now driving forward actions to make their ideas real.

In November 2017, OYCI members at Alva Academy focussed on marketing the organisation and its work. They made a short video to showcase their work, starring themselves. A team building event saw the redesign of the OYCI brand and identified website requirements. The team also considered how to make the most of the Year of Young People 2018, working with the school’s Year of Young People Ambassador and beginning to design a community event for young people in the Hillfoots. The Enterprise and Marketing team interviewed marketing and design agencies and appointed one to finalise the team’s logo and develop the website.

At the same time, OYCI team members from Dollar engaged with Dollar Community Trust on the improvements they would like to see to local parks in that community. This included initial research, a walk around the parks to audit existing features, generate ideas and identify priorities for improvements, and consultation with other young people.

The Improving Our Communities Consultation Report identified a study club as a priority for many young people. Alva Academy has since provided a small budget to OYCI to establish and run such a club for pupils in S1 to S3. OYCI team members consulted with their peers on a suitable time and space for the club and produced a flier. Older children committed to a rota for providing support at the club and developed a register and evaluation forms. As a result, 24 young people have been supported to improve their knowledge and skills, while the OYCI team have improved their skills and confidence in consulting with peers, in designing, running and continuously improving a club, as well as in mentoring younger people who attend. 71% of attendees rated the club five out of five, and 35% attend regularly. Three pupils have gone on to gain valuable employment experience and references and have since made donations towards running the club in return.

Primary school teams have chosen to take forward an enterprise project. For example, Menstrie Primary team members, piggy-backing onto a school event held in October, developed products to sell and made marketing materials to advertise what they were doing and why. They made a small profit of £35 and went on to identify how they could use this to make a larger sum. They researched materials, design ideas and pricing online. They purchased wooden spoons and worked with older OYCI team members at Alva Academy, accessing the laser cutter there, to etch designs on the spoons. These sold out at the Christmas Fayre in Menstrie, bringing in £100 in profit. The team plan to turn this into a larger profit again, keen to see how much they can earn through enterprise in one school year. This activity has raised the profile of OYCI with parents/ carers, the wider community and key partners. Team members have developed skills and confidence in initiating and leading enterprise activity, numeracy, literacy, design, marketing, team work and organisation.

The initial consultation report also identified a specific gap around accessible drama provision for young people in the Hillfoots. Establishing a drama club and delivering a community performance became a passionate goal for OYCI’s Drama Action Group. They secured support from Macrobert Arts Centre’s Creative Learning Team and this had a ripple effect, with members of the Alva Acadmey teaching team offering their services in a voluntary capacity outside of school hours. This meant that the opportunity could be offered to young people not at the school. Planning and development work then formed the basis of a successful funding application to Young Start, securing £48,000 to develop the drama club which has been running Friday evening sessions since the start of April with around 30 or so participants. The group’s skills have been developed in consultation, fundraising, running a club and presenting to large groups.

OYCI has moved from a young person’s community consultation exercise to a vehicle through which young people are improving their community. The team are identifying their own priorities, securing support, planning delivery and going on to make their ideas a reality. As one of the team members put it: “We are making real positive changes”.

Lesson learned

Commissioning is an effective way of distributing some of a community benefit fund. Rather than operating more conventionally (which this Panel has broadly done to date) the Panel were responsive to the proposal from FS to commission the initial research. It was not presented as an overly complex approach and the Panel quickly realised the benefits of taking a more proactive approach to spending the funds.

Young people have competing priorities on their time; getting together and driving action forward between meetings can be difficult. To overcome this OYCI uses a three-point engagement model featuring regular meetings of the full group, smaller working groups and one-to-one sessions between OYCI team members and others. The latter helps children to gain confidence to take action and to understand how OYCI will benefit their personal, academic and career development. Participating schools have enabled most engagement to happen during the school day and allowed children to be released for a full group session each term. In addition, the Alva Academy team meet fortnightly with primary school teams.

Perhaps the most important factor in helping the young people prioritise OYCI activity is their increasing sense of agency through involvement; they have started to take responsibility for actions and report back because they are realising that they can make change happen.

With so many young people involved, communicating across the team has been a challenge. Many have access to phones but use different communications channels. To address this the team have: prioritised development of the website; ensured communications with parents as well as the young people and across several platforms (email, Facebook, Messenger), and; held regular get-togethers and team building sessions – for the whole team and for sub-groups.

Another challenge has been availability of resources such as funding, staff time and a working base. While OYCI is youth led, supporting and enabling the group is time intensive for school staff. At the outset, staff time was the greatest cost but there were some other costs in ensuring the activities of OYCI are accessible to all young people. The grant from EDF-ER Burnfoot Hill Community Fund has been a major source of support in this first year, with the Fund Panel (made up of local representatives) seeing real value in what OYCI was seeking to do. Going forward, the team will develop a mixed funding model, seeking grant income for core activity and funding of specific priorities, establishing service level agreements, and bringing in money though enterprise. Developing relationships and working in collaboration with others is also key, such as schools, local authority youth services, other service providers, businesses, community councils and other community organisations.

Find out more about the EDF Renewables Burnfoot Hill Wind Farm Community Fund (Clackmannanshire) on Foundation Scotland’s website.