Happy2Help is a project run by Strathmore Centre for Youth Development (SCYD). It aims to break down barriers between generations by working in partnership to increase the understanding of age-based issues faced by different community sectors. It is up and running in residential care homes and for people with disabilities, as well as in local community facilities in Rattray and Coupar Angus in Eastern Perthshire.
It was set up by on the basis of sharing and exchanging skills and has evolved into a model that involves older people choosing activities. These include learning how to use computers and mobile phones but also board games and just friendly conversation. This happens usually on a one-to-one basis, taking a person-centred approach to learning. In return, the older people take an interest in the lives of the young volunteers and offer advice and guidance. The contact and conversations with older people have had a significant impact in fostering greater understanding between the generations in the small rural town of Blairgowrie where the project began. The fact that the young people turn up regularly and behave in an exemplary way counteracts negative stereotypes and beliefs.
Strathmore Centre for Youth Development (SCYD) is an award winning charity based in Blairgowrie that began as a collaboration with the local volunteer centre. It is led by young people, and serves the communities of Eastern Perthshire, adopting an innovative holistic approach to community involvement. Many other pieces of work undertaken by the young people also bring them into contact with members of the local communities. These include:
- gardening projects
- litter picks
- stewarding events
- erecting and dismantling stalls for the community market
- attending numerous meetings.
Young members of the centre volunteer to take part in all of these, and enjoy their role as active citizens, working alongside other volunteers and professional colleagues of all ages. SCYD has also delivered a taster session for community learning and development staff in Perth and Kinross Council.
We have listened to the views of all participants and run the projects taking a person-centred approach which offers the greatest chance of success. There are organisations and projects that claim to be “young person led” but when things become difficult they “help out” (a euphemism often for ‘take over’). SCYD believes that to be truly young person-led, our workers can provide support and guidance but should never do the work. This allows a greater sense of achievement when a task is completed successfully and offers an important learning opportunity also when a task goes wrong.
After helping to erect and dismantle stalls for the monthly community market for some time, the young people were offered a stall of their own – free of charge. This they now run on a voluntary basis. The consistent feedback has been that they are doing a fantastic job and are a credit to their community.
All of the above are reflected not only in positive feedback but also in the improved and positive stories in the local press relating to young people and their activities. This has the effect of reassuring local people and of lessening the largely inappropriate and unnecessary fear of crime, which is usually a result of hearsay and lack of understanding.