Message from High Life Highland at the Sunart Centre
As you will be aware, the Sunart Centre has been closed since March 2020 in response to the Covid 19 pandemic, and this has led to an end to all community access to Ardnamurchan High School, including many of the after school activities for pupils of both AHS and its associated Primary Schools.
As we edge towards the easing of restrictions we are beginning to plan the restarting of our regular activities in August. One of the main success stories of the Sunart Centre has been our regular Tuesday and Thursday night “Youth Clubs” during school term time, and as we consider the future it is important that we include the views of parents and of those who attend the sessions in our planning. A overview of how the youth clubs have run and been managed in the past is given below, and more details can be found on our website www.sunartcentre.org .
Of course, we can not manage these evenings without adequate adult supervision, and although High Life Highland have some staff present every night, the successful and safe delivery of a meaningful programme of activities is dependent on a number of parent volunteers helping out. If the activities were solely reliant on paid HLH staff then the costs to those attending would increase significantly, particularly with an expected tightening of budgets in the next year or two.
We need to know from you:
- Are you are happy with the timing of the buses (7pm and 9pm on Tuesdays, 6:30pm and 8:30pm on Thursdays)?
- Do you have any particular skills, qualifications or interests that would help you deliver activities for the children and young people?
- Would you be willing to help out as a parent volunteer on an occasional or regular basis?
If you have any comments on the above, would like to make any suggestions on how these sessions should be managed in the future, or are able to offer to help occasionally, please get in touch. You can do so through the “Sunart Centre Youth Club” Facebook page, by emailing centre manager Eoghan Carmichael at Eoghan.firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 01687 470267. Before schools begin again in August we may well launch an online survey to gather more opinions, but before they go for a well-earned summer break the schools have offered to forward this message on to all parents, and we would very much welcome any responses now.
SUNART CENTRE YOUTH CLUBS
On the principle that the fantastic facilities provided by Ardnamurchan High School and the Sunart Centre should be as accessible as possible to as many as possible, High Life Highland open the facilities on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to school pupils from as wide a geographic range as possible. To facilitate this, free to use buses are provided from Ardgour, Lochaline and Acharacle each night, and High Life Highland provide Sunart Centre staff to supervise the access and activities, assisted by parent volunteers and our HLH colleagues in Youth Development, Active Schools, Rangers Service and the Library.
On Tuesday nights, many AHS pupils stay on after school for a range of activities, and many primary pupils (and younger) attend for a range of activities until 7pm. At 7pm buses arrive from the 3 villages with any AHS pupils who went home and wish to return, and then take anyone who wishes to go home again. Between 7pm and 9pm activities are limited to AHS pupils and other young people aged 12 to 18. At 9pm the 3 buses take everyone who needs them home.
On Thursday nights, the procedure is repeated with buses at 6:30pm and 8:30pm, but the evening activities between 6:30 and 8:30 are restricted to primary school pupils aged 8 and over, plus any AHS pupils who are assisting as part of a recognised award scheme promoted by HLH or AHS (e.g. Sports Leaders and Duke of Edinburgh).
To date the buses have been free of charge to those who use them, and all school pupils attending have been asked to pay £1 entry fee, which will probably increase to at least £2 in the coming term. Parents are asked to ensure that their children have sufficient funds to pay this on the night. There is also a “tuck shop” selling snacks and drinks that is very popular with those attending, and important for those who stay away from home 9am to 9pm.
Although we do not charge passengers, providing these buses two night per week is extremely expensive and they are reliant on funding from High Life Highland, The Highland Council and the Àrainn Shuaineirt Management Committee. The future of these buses is precarious and there is no guarantee current funding will be available in the longer term. It is a challenge both High Life Highland and the local community, represented by the Àrainn Shuaineirt Management Committee, need to tackle with some urgency.
Community Centre Co-Ordinator – High Life Highland
Sunart Centre, Strontian PH36 4JA
PLEASE NOTE: Currently working from home
Telephone 01687 470267 / 07796 652390