The re:connect programme aims to reach out to young people in Moray by bringing activities and opportunities to the area.
Youth work agencies, Moray Council, Police Scotland, NHS Grampian and outdoor learning and arts organisations are coming together to create and support the new activities.
Re:connect aims to promote positive lifestyle choices and enable young people to discover and develop new skills.
The first phase of the programme consists of pop-up events in each of the main towns in Moray. Young people can expect to try out activities including gorge-walking, kayaking, circus skills and film-making.
The programme is funded by Youthlink Scotland’s Youth Work Education Recovery fund.
Recovering from the pandemic
As well as introducing new activities, re:connect aims to give young people the opportunity to discuss their ideas for recovery from the pandemic.
Police Inspector Andrew Wilson, who is based in Elgin, said: “As we continue to recover from the pandemic it is important to reflect on the impact this difficult period has had on the children and young people here in Moray.
“We’ve engaged with and listened to them throughout this time and know that their family’s health, social isolation and school closures are just some of the worries they have had to endure.”
Highlighting the importance of supporting young people after the pandemic, Richard Lochhead MSP said: “Children and young people have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and they’ve missed out on spending time with their friends or to play sports and take part in organised events.
“As we move towards recovery, children’s mental health must be a priority and activities like these will not only provide young people locally with support from youth work agencies, but taking part in these group events will hugely benefit their wellbeing.”
Listening to young people
Those involved will be given the opportunity to set up local youth groups or drop-ins as well as enjoying the wide range of activities.
The basis for the re:connect programme came from listening to the wants and needs of young people in the area.
Moray Council’s Children, Young People and Families Manager, Fiona Herd, said: “Young people have told us that they want places to meet up with friends where they can access supports but most importantly where they can have fun and try new activities.
“Our shared vision for re:connect is our commitment to help make young people’s ideas a reality and make Moray a place where young people have a voice and where they can make a difference. It’s about harnessing their enthusiasm, skills and opinions to create opportunities with them.”
Schools will be sent an itinerary of events, which will also be advertised on the police and council’s social media sites.
“I can’t wait to play again”
‘Street football’ sessions have already taken place, and brothers Charlie and Jacob Sutherland from Elgin joined in the fun.
Charlie, 13, said: “Street football was a lot of fun and it was great being able to play with different people and make new friends. I can’t wait to play again.”
Older brother Jacob, 17, volunteered at the activity. He said: “I really enjoyed being able to help out in my capacity as a volunteer and after everything that has happened it was just brilliant to see so many happy young faces enjoying themselves.”
Free refreshments will be provided throughout the programme by Tesco and Asda.