Visiting a charity is the best way to really understand why Le Loop exists. I’ve visited several of the charities supported by WWMT over the 6 years that I’ve been working on the event and I never fail to be overwhelmed by the extraordinary work that is being done, by extraordinary people.
Last month I visited Pilton Youth and Children’s Project in Edinburgh, along with Tour Organiser Sarah and a couple of our Edinburgh-based riders. As ever, I left feeling energised and enthused, as well as in awe of the fantastic people who work at ground level with often very challenging young people.
2 years ago I championed PYCP for their application to WWMT for a grant because I wanted to ensure that my fundraising efforts while riding part of the 2016 route had a local impact. I already knew the project and the importance of their work in one of Edinburgh’s most struggling communities. They were successful, and were awarded a WWMT grant of £20,000 over 3 years.
WWMT funds their FACE North project which engages with 68 specially identified young people who are already involved in crime and antisocial behaviour.
The project is delivered by Katie and James who are clearly passionate about their work and the kids they are helping. The range of their efforts is huge:
- Health, sex and drugs education
- Activities ranging from sea fishing (an unexpectedly hugely successful activity, that includes learning to prepare and cook their catch), a residential at the Iona Community-run Camas project on Mull, to cycling and community projects – often carried out late at night until the early hours of the morning to keep young people off the streets and out of trouble
- Violence intervention
- Family support, even helping parents with organising their finances better to help secure their home environment as well as mediating in family relationships
- One-to-one support including helping with college applications
- Getting young people involved in pre-employment training
- Improving school attendance by facilitating some classes within the club house that would otherwise not be attended
Katie and James’ success is entirely dependent on the trust they build with the young people. They act as mentors, friends and even parental figures to the kids, many of whom depend on them being therefor them. Katie and James promised us that they do sometimes turn their phones off, but the impression is that they are available for these kids almost 24 hours a day.
2018 Gavin Mooney had this to say after his visit:
“The challenge I face next July is nothing compared to the challenges these young people face. I am more determined than ever to make a difference. Thanks for the opportunity to see what we are contributing to”.
Like many charities throughout the UK, PYCP is suffering from a big slash in government funding. This makes them increasingly dependent on the grants from Trusts like WWMT. It is clear that without this external funding, vital charities like PYCP will cease to exist. If that were to happen, we could expect to see more youth crime and anti-social behaviour, decreased school and college attendance and employment as well as a general reduction in health and well being among the most needy young people in the UK.
The funds raised by the Le Loop are critical to our ability to support this incredibly important work. If you would like to visit one of the charities supported by WWMT to see the work for yourself, come along to one of our group visits in the New Year (see ‘Dates for your Diary’ in your Rider Zone). If you can’t make one of these, contact me, Kate, to arrange something specifically for you. We will always do everything we can to help you visit a charity.