In January 2016 Borders Youth Theatre were awarded a grant of £2,000.00 from the Blackhill Windfarm Community Fund towards their Intergenerational Project.
The purpose of grant was to contribute to the costs of two workers who will co-ordinate links and interviews between young people at Duns Primary School and older residents of the Duns area. With a view to developing a piece of theatre to be performed for the wider community, based on the information collected by the students.
The balance of funding came from BYT funds. Throughout the year, Trustees work hard to secure funding from a variety of sources. In addition, Trustees and participants carry out fund-raising through bake sales, sponsored events etc.
A group of older residents from the Duns area met weekly with both Primary 7 classes from Duns primary school to share experiences and allow the young people to interview the older members to try to find out about life as a young person 50 or more years ago. Along with this, the leaders worked with the young people on a series of activities to develop drama skills. The young people then used these skills to develop pieces of drama based on the experiences they heard. The Drama Leaders helped put these together as two performances which were given to the rest of the school and to the older group, parents, friends and local residents. The project was embraced by the whole community and was a great success.
The core group comprised two primary 7 classes from Duns Primary School - a total of 55 pupils and a group of around 15 older residents. (Some were not able to attend each week). The performances were seen by the rest of the pupils in the school and by around 85 people from the local community.
Although the main benefit was to the core groups, the effect on the whole small community was considerable. The general feeling at the start within the older group is that they are ‘helping the young people. In fact, the project is as much for their benefit and, by the end, most appreciate this to be the case. The benefits to the young people are seen in the summary of their feedback comments.
In addition to our project, three of the older group worked separately with the classes on a ‘Family Journeys’ project. This was a useful spin-off which can continue in the future.
This was the latest in a series of projects we have been able to offer in Scottish Borders, mostly in the Berwickshire area. Following a pilot, these have developed successfully and are now well establishes as an excellent addition community project. Schools and communities are very keen to be involved and we work hard to secure funding to satisfy these requests, Without the grant from Blackhill Windfarm Community Fund we would not have been able to deliver this project. There are two long-term impacts, one on Borders Youth Theatre and one on the Duns Community. Firstly, as noted above, positive comments about the project continue to spread and we have a number of requests from other schools and communities. We have also had requests from some of the older people to be included in future projects, even outside their own community. We are planning the next project which will link with LIVE Borders Project Officer/Education and Outreach Officer with a view to future work on ‘Saving and Sharing: Stories of the Scottish Borders in World War One’ project. As noted above, some of the older Duns residents continued to work with the young people and it is hoped that such links will continue.
For over 25 years, Borders Youth Theatre (BYT) has been providing high quality drama experiences for young people across Scottish Borders. Through working with experienced professional leaders, young people gain new skills, particularly in communication; they develop creative and social skills and gain self-confidence; they work as part of a community. These skills are essential in everyday life. They also lead to excellent future opportunities, not just in Drama and Theatre, but in a wide variety of areas requiring these skills. BYT provides weekly drama sessions run by experienced professionals in a variety of locations across the Borders for young people aged 8 to 25. At present, these are in Duns, Jedburgh, Kelso, Melrose, and Selkirk. Fees are £4.50 per workshop paid termly. (unchanged for 4 years) BYT also performs acclaimed larger scale performances through the year, mainly during school holidays. Around 150 young people are involved with BYT every week and many hundreds have benefited over the years
Although BYT contracts experienced professionals, the organisation is run by volunteer Trustees. The Trustees are always looking for interested people willing to give a little time to help with organisation.