Early December, One Community Scotland co-funded a weekend away to an outdoor activity camp in Scotland, called Lendrick Muir, with SVRU and Youth Link. Funding also included equipping the young peole who attended with walking boots and outdoor jackets. SVRU/One Community staff were there to assist with the weekend. Those who attended were 16 men – ages ranging from 16 to early 30s and from a huge variety of backgrounds/countries, but mainly Africa and the Middle East and most were Asylum Seekers.
The venue is run by Scripture Union Scotland – a Christian based outdoor adventure centre predominantly used by Education Scotland for younger school kids. One Community Scotland and SVRU have partnered with SU and whilst this was the first residential event, there have been six previous day programmes. The centre, called LendrickMuir is based around a grand country house with extensive grounds and stunning scenery. Within the ground there are numerous outdoor activity bases from high ropes courses, to team building games in forest, to archery, mountain biking, water based activities…the list is lengthy! SU instructors lead all of the more skilled pursuits.
The Saturday kicked off with some great fun outdoor activities such as a blindfold rope led adventure in the forest, bush craft skills, archery and a low level ropes course. In between one of the teams went for an hours walk around the grounds. Throughout there was also a games hall for football/basketball. The continual feedback was one of gratefulness and appreciation of the weekend, and much excitement when snow fell on the nearby hills.
One highlight was the ‘Kota’ – a Scandinavian style indoor fire pit – the team all sat round getting warmed and told stories – some humbling/harrowing of their journey to the UK, others hilarious about pigeons!
On Sunday everyone went on a walk to a beatiful gorge. A Police/SVRU presentation was given to the young people, disussing differing laws and living in Scotland. This was followed by a talk on building experience/CVs and improving communication skills.
Basic evaluation forms were then completed by the men who attended and all were very positive.
Reflecting – this was a tremendous opportunity for these men to ‘breathe’ freely for the weekend – to explore and appreciate both the countryside but also the kindness of strangers. Each brought their own story and life to the weekend - all mucked in, participated well and importantly had lots of fun!
On speaking with SU staff, they greatly valued the group. Their instructors, as previous, work with children, so exposing them to adults, particularly from minority backgrounds was a great learning for all and part of the SU objective of working with more disadvantaged groups. There is a warm welcome back for One Community/SVRU groups!