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Local young people create safe Friday night activity

A group of brilliant local young volunteers have worked together to re-launch a community basketball session in Benarty to ensure that other young people can benefit from the initiative in the same way that they did themselves.

The volunteers led by Ewan Mcturk gained support from local councillor Mary Lockhart to secure a new venue and have planned a fundraising disco later this year. Ewan commented:

“There are lots of young people walking around the streets without anything to do so I wanted to provide them with a safe, social environment where they can have fun and play basketball”

The group of volunteers receive training and support from Scottish Sports Futures, a charity focussed on using sport as a tool to change lives. They have put learning into practice in re-launching the session which initially started at Lochgelly High School in 2013. These awesome young people really want to make a positive difference in their community so have taken on all leadership aspects of this project from coaching at the sessions to marketing to get kids off the streets.

Shell Twilight Basketball sessions are designed to provide fun and engaging sports activity for young people aged 11 to 21 years and to give them access to a positive experience at times which can see higher levels of anti-social behaviour. The new sessions are free and will operate every Friday night from 6.30pm to 9pm for both males and females at the Benarty Centre in Ballingry.

Shell Twilight Basketball is supported by title sponsors Shell and the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities fund, which takes funds recovered from the proceeds of crime and invests them into free activities and programmes for young people across Scotland.

The national diversionary programme, sponsored by Shell UK Ltd, aims to ensure young people have a safe place to take part in physical activity, make friends and learn a range of skills. The sessions also address a range of issues through interactive workshops such as mental health and wellbeing. Training opportunities are also available to support young people to achieve their full potential.

Shell UK Ltd.’s Communications & Social Performance Advisor, John Raine commented on the initiative: “Shell Twilight Basketball is an exciting initiative that is making a real contribution to social inclusion by giving young people the opportunity to make a number of positive choices for their futures while having fun and learning vital skills.

“Shell support communities near to our UK operations in a number of ways, through activities that meet community needs or address particular issues, often based on

their suggestions. Our contribution to communities ranges from providing grants to local charities to supporting projects that help reduce crime in the area.”

 

For more information visit http://scottishsportsfutures.org.uk/ Shell Twilight Basketball on Facebook or contact stephanie@ssf.org.uk

The Great Get Together

The Great Get Together weekend took place on 19 – 21 June 2019, which would have been Jo Cox’s 46th birthday. This was the fourth time that thousands of people up and down the country have got together to celebrate kindness, community, respect and the values we share. The Great Get Together is inspired by Jo Cox, who was killed on 16 June 2016. 

Scottish Sports Futures (SSF) wanted to take part in The Great Get Together to bring both Shell Twilight Girls sessions together on one night to highlight the importance of coming together as a community although they are all from different backgrounds. The girls from the Govan session can be quite isolated as many are from BAME communities where parents can be reluctant for them to be involved in wider community activities. We have worked hard to ensure parents and young people see Twilight as a safe, inclusive place where they can come to on a Friday night.  The girls from the Wellhouse session suffer from territorialism and young people do not often venture into new communities or areas so have limited chances to meet young people from diverse backgrounds.

SSF’s Great Get Together event was held at Glasgow Drumoyne Sports Club so we provided transport to allow the girls from Easterhouse to come over to Govan.  We also invited parents of the girls to come along as well as inviting local schools and other sports clubs in the surrounding area.

As part of the event our SSF Wellbeing Ambassadors who are part of our Spirit ‘Changing Lives Through Sport’  delivered an educational workshop around mental health & wellbeing. The focus was on the importance of social connections, bringing a group of young people together and the benefits that reaching out to those within your community can have on your mental health. The workshops also looked at celebrating happiness within girls and empowering woman to come together to support each other through kindness and respecting each other. This was brought to life using a piece of wool within the workshop showing the girls we all have things in common and we are all connected in one way or another.

On the night we had 20 young girls participate in The Great Get Together event. One the young girls was asked her thoughts on the educational workshops and expressed:

“It was so lovely to hear someone say something nice about me who just met me 20 minutes ago”

After the workshops both of the girl’s sessions were mixed into two different teams to allow them to play some basketball. Although the girls all come from a range of different backgrounds, they all love being physical activity and that was clear to see from the basketball game. One of the coaches said:

“It’s amazing that an hour ago none of these girls were talking to each other and now they are giving each other high fives and hugs when playing in the same team, it just goes to show the power of sport”

Once the girls had played basketball we provided food and soft drinks for the young girls, this was the highlight of the event as by this stage it was as if the girls had known each other for years. They were sitting eating and mixing with each other as a community, it was lovely to watch and reflect on.

As the event came to an end, the girls tool away t-shirts and goodie bags containing reminders of the important messages from the event about the benefits of coming together as a community. As the girls were departing there was a request for a follow up event:

“Can we get they girls to come down our area to play”

This put a huge smile on everyone’s face as it showed what a good connection the girls had between each other and the true benefit of bringing a community together from different backgrounds and the happiness and respect that a communities can gain from coming together.

On the night we had 20 young girls participate in The Great Get Together event. One the young girls was asked her thoughts on the educational workshops and she expressed;

“It was so lovely to hear someone say something nice about me who just met me 20 minutes ago”

After the workshops both of the girl’s sessions were integrated/mixed into two different teams to allow them to play some basketball. Although the girls all come from a range of different backgrounds, they all love being physical activity and that was clear to see from the basketball game. One of the coaches said;

“It’s amazing that an hour ago none of these girls were talking to each other and now they are giving each other high fives and hugs when playing in the same team, it just goes to show the power of sport”

Once the girls had played basketball we provided food and soft drinks for the young girls, this was the highlight of the event as by this stage it was as if the girls had known each other for years. They were sitting eating and mixing with each other as a community, it was lovely to watch and reflect on.

As the event came to an end, we handed out t-shirts and goodie bags for the girls as a memento of the evening, within these goodie bags were reminders of the important messages the girls gained through this event about the benefits of coming together as a community. As the girls were departing to go home the best quote of the night was a young girl saying to her coach;

“Can we get they girls to come down our area to play”

This put a huge smile on everyone’s face as it showed what a good connection the girls had between each other and the true benefit of bringing a community together from different backgrounds and the happiness and respect that a community can gain from coming together.

New basketball initiative in Fraserburgh to divert youngsters from anti social behaviour

An exciting new initiative at Fraserburgh Community and Sports Centre is designed to provide fun and engaging sports activity for young people in the town aged 11 to 21 years and to give them access to a positive experience at times which can see higher levels of anti-social behaviour in the town.

Shell Twilight Basketball sessions are free and will operate every Friday night from 8pm to 10pm for both males and females. Trial sessions will be offered from 12 July to the end of the holidays when it is intended to launch the full programme.

The sessions are being run with Scottish Sports Futures who have benefitted from a partnership with Shell UK Ltd since 2010.  Shell Twilight Basketball is supported by title sponsors Shell and the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities, which takes funds recovered from the proceeds of crime and invests them into free activities and programmes for young people across Scotland.

The national diversionary programme, sponsored by Shell UK Ltd, runs in areas of deprivation and aims to ensure young people have a safe place to take part in physical activity, make friends and learn a range of skills. The sessions also address a range of issues through interactive workshops such as mental health and wellbeing. Training opportunities are also available to support young people to achieve their full potential.

Scottish Sports Futures Manager Sean Brady said. “Our aim is to embed sessions in communities and ensure there is a legacy of local staff and young people to deliver the programme beyond our initial investment”.

Shell UK Ltd.’s Communications & Social Performance Advisor, John Raine commented on the initiative:
Shell Twilight Basketball is an exciting initiative that is making a real contribution to social inclusion by giving young people the opportunity to make a number of positive choices for their futures while having fun and learning vital skills.

“Shell support communities near to our UK operations in a number of ways, through activities that meet community needs or address particular issues, often based on their suggestions. Our contribution to communities ranges from providing grants to local charities to supporting projects that help reduce crime in the area.”

Cllr Anne Stirling, Chair of the Communities Committee, said “I am delighted that SSF and Shell are helping bring Shell Twilight Basketball to Fraserburgh.  It is a priority for Aberdeenshire Council to invest in young people and improve the lives of those in our communities. This project helps to achieve that by providing healthy physical activity, support, training and positive role models”.

Chair of the Sub Committee David Cook added “Basketball is a very inclusive sport and one which is already very popular in Aberdeenshire.  With the Shell Twilight Basketball we hope to introduce a new audience to the sport who will really benefit from the inclusive, supportive and most of all fun, environment it offers”.

The free sessions will be run by staff who are experienced in both basketball and youth work.  There will be opportunities for the young people taking part to meet sporting heroes from the professional Glasgow Rocks Basketball team and even to visit them for big games.

For more information visit Shell Twilight Basketball on Facebook or contact the Fraserburgh Community and Sports Centre.

An Ambassador’s Mental Health Journey

 By Declan Macdougall, Shell Twilight Basketball Ambassador, SSF Wellbeing Ambassador

 

Tell us a bit about your mental health journey…

I suffer from anxiety and random panic attacks that vary in severity. When I started Twilight, I suffered quite badly from these but didn’t really make it known and I bottled it up and this resulted in me not being able to control my emotions very well. I would show up to Twilight with my headphones on and not really try to connect or interact with people, I would take fouls personal and I tended to storm out a lot. The Twilight staff realised this was becoming a bit of an issue. They worked with me and spoke about different ways of being able to control my emotions better which helped a little but not much on a personal level. Then the ambassador program was brought up and I was instantly up for it, the idea of being able to spread my knowledge and love for basketball but I did have my doubts because I’m not very good at communicating with people I don’t know. Coming up to the ambassador residential I worked closer with the Twilight staff and managed to distill my fears and anxieties about the residential. I was a bit nervous as first but as the first night went by and everyone laughing and enjoying themselves I slowly came out my shell and the ambassador weekend opened me up, I didn’t feel scared or not included. From then on, I Have been able to be more out going and confident in my actions, to the point that I even got myself a college placement. I still suffer from anxiety and my panic attacks but now I am able to control them better and slow things down.

 

What impact do you think physical activity has on improving mental health and well-being and why?

I Think sport has a huge impact on mental health, even just the interaction between athlete and coach can be amazing for them. Some may only get out the house very often and going out to play a sport may be the only social interaction they get that day. I know from experience from many times I haven’t wanted to speak to anyone that even just interaction with teammates and coaches can make a world of difference. In that regard I feel that physical activity can do wonders for your mental health and well-being.

 

What do you think are the key factors facing young people relating to mental health and wellbeing?

Being aware that everyone’s issues are different. A method you use to help someone might not help others and it’s important to try to help the young person in the way they feel most comfortable.  It requires patience, there isn’t a quick fix when it comes to mental health, people are going to have good days and going to have bad days and you need to support them.

 

What are the things that you do that help improve your mental health and well-being?

When I am having an off day and I really don’t want to communicate with people I usually turn to basketball because everything about it is natural and makes me feel at home. If I’m having issues I sometimes will put headphones on and listen to music and write in a journal I have, sometimes I write about my problems and sometimes I write stories. I spend time with family or friends and try enjoy their company as much as possible. I spend time self reflecting and thinking about how I can slow down for when I am overthinking

 

What would you say has had the biggest influence on your mental health and well-being?

Basketball being one of the biggest influences in most aspects of my life has affected my mental health and well being. It has always been my escape from a bad day or if my anxiety has been bad lately, I can always find a safe place in a basketball court. There’s something about the pound of the ball against the hardwood that is oddly calming. Going to college has had a huge impact. I’ve had to learn how to do a lot of things for myself and travelling five hours a day gives me a lot of time to self reflect.

 

What more do you think can be done to highlight the benefit of sport and physical activity to mental health and well-being?

Do more workshops on emphasising talking about your mental health, like making it a more common thing to do and reduce the stigma around talking about mental health. Get more young people to do the workshops to show that these things aren’t just an adult thing. I feel like it’s something that needs to be talked about in schools more so that people have more opportunities to speak to someone or to recognise where they may need help with things. I feel that we really need to do everything we can to reduce the stigma of talking about our mental health.

 

For more information on either of our ambassador programmes contact Ross Hutton – ross@ssf.org.uk

Shining a Light on Mental Health

 By Shell Twilight Basketball staff and participants

Amanda Hiddleston is 1 of 20 Scottish Sports Futures’ Wellbeing Ambassadors who helped to plan and deliver a mental health and wellbeing themed basketball tournament at Oriam in Edinburgh on Sunday 7th April.

The event saw over 250 young people come together from Shell Twilight Basketball sessions across Scotland as far afield as Dingwall and Stranraer.

Amanda tells us about her thoughts from the event:

The tournament on Sunday was a great opportunity to let other young people know how much sport and physical activity can play a massive role in helping improve mental health and wellbeing.

In my role as a Wellbeing Ambassador and as a member of the steering group for the event I was excited to be part of the planning process and see things develop from our initial meetings and from our residential in March where along with 20 other Wellbeing Ambassadors we developed mental health and wellbeing workshops and ideas for the event.

It was amazing to see our plans come to life! On the day I delivered workshops on the topics of stress, pressure and social connection which all allowed young people to come and have fun in an interactive workshop whilst learning about the topics and taking away the message that sport can have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.

The tournament was just an amazing fun filled day which challenged me to grow in confidence and step outside my own comfort zone. It was so rewarding and encouraging to see the young people who attended grasping the theme of the event, having fun and taking away the message that sport and physical activity can have positively impact mental health and wellbeing.

 

The Shining a Light on Mental Health tournament was made possible through funding from The National Lottery Heritage fund as part of Year of Young People 2018, The Changing Lives Through Sport (read more about it here) and Physical Activity Fund as well the Scottish Governments Cashback for Communities fund.  

Case Study – Lochgelly

Shell Twilight Basketball sessions have been delivered every Friday in Lochgelly since June 2013, to provide young people in the community with a safe place to take part in positive physical activity. The session brings people together to improve confidence, life skills and overall wellbeing. There is a real need in the community for activities like Shell Twilight Basketball. Lochgelly and the surrounding area are deprived and really suffer from issues with youth disorder. Shell Twilight Basketball offers a unique approach to engaging with young people, our sessional staff integrate youth work and sport to ensure participants are at the heart of the programme.

A participant who recently became a volunteer coach, had this to say about the programme;

“I think the Shell Twilight Basketball session helps the community by getting kids out of the house, getting them off the streets and bringing them into a safe environment.”

Our session leaders are vital to the success of our programmes. For a lot of the young people we work with, our sessional staff may be the only positive role models in their lives. Our ambassador programme gives the young people the opportunity to develop their skills as a leader and role model. Two participant volunteers commented on the importance of role models and what they do to positively influence at their session;

“The first role models I ever looked up to were my coaches at Twilight.”
“I feel that I’m considered to be a role model as I’m always cheerful, I try to engage with everyone and give them someone they can talk to if needed.”

In Lochgelly we have a group of volunteers who have grown through the programme and developed their skills to lead the session every week, completely unassisted. Over 20 young people attend the session weekly and it continues to attract new participants. One of the volunteers had this to say about the programme:

“Shell Twilight Basketball has helped me become a good role model and a good coach. They have given me opportunities to further my career e.g. Ambassador programme, UKCC Level 1 basketball coaching award and coaching my own team.”

These amazing participant volunteers are at the centre of everything we are trying to do to hand our tried and tested initiative back to the community. The Ambassador programme really has allowed us to create the next generation of Shell Twilight Basketball leaders who are more confident, more skilled and more aspirational. Alongside their volunteering commitments, each of the volunteers have recently moved on to positive destinations including college & employment.

“Shell Twilight Basketball has helped me at college as I take new skills learned from other coaches and take them to college and use them in my classes. It’s helped me be more confident with other people if I don’t know them as much. Shell Twilight Basketball has encouraged me to keep thriving to gain my career in sport (basketball) and to help me gain qualifications in this college year.”

We are really proud of the outcome in Lochgelly and the young people who have stepped up to ensure that the session can continue on a self-sustaining basis. The Community Use team have been fully supportive of the session and continue to offer a free space every week to make sure the young people in the community have something positive to do. We hope to see more of our sessions follow suit to change the lives of more young people across Scotland for years to come.

Shell Twilight Basketball Outstanding Achievement Award

By Shell Twilight Basketball Mentor

When I first started working with Declan he was a member of the Irvine Twilight session and the existing staff members had picked him out as someone I may wish to keep an eye on, I was told a story of Declan throwing a bottle of water during a session that was very close to hitting a youth worker that was present, I was then also told of the possibility that he may also storm out because of his problems with controlling his anger and emotion.

I was to witness this very quickly.

Orrin, the coach at Irvine, and I had a chat about a way forward, Orrin having done some previous work with Declan on his issues agreed that us working as a team and being united on what was acceptable behaviour from Declan but also letting Declan know what he could expect from us was the best way forward.

Declan did show immediate signs of responding but was still having occasional incidents of anger and was still disrupting the session on a less frequent basis, progress was slow but myself and Orrin were determined to get the best from Declan and his obvious love of Basketball.

We were then asked by Twilight Basketball to speak to the session about the up and coming ambassador programme, Declan was immediately eager to be involved, this however presented us with a big problem, with Declan still having occasional bursts of anger we did not want other young people at the session seeing us to be rewarding or condoning this type of behaviour.

The same night three members of staff met to discuss the situation, such was the debate that it was taken to a vote to see if Declan would be put forward, and the vote fell in Declan’s favour by two votes to one.

Orrin and I told Declan the following week that we would be willing to put his name forward as long as we saw an improvement in behaviour at the Irvine sessions.

To his credit Declan began to improve on a weekly basis and was indeed put forward for the ambassador programme.

It became apparent very quickly on the weekend ambassador residential at Kilgarston that we had made the right choice in giving him another chance. Declan was now mixing with strangers and also actively encouraging others to take part. As a worker it was joy to see, it was decided that weekend that I would become Declan’s mentor.

 

I sit here writing this today and can honestly say the transformation in Declan’s behaviours and attitudes both within our session and outside of it is nothing short of phenomenal , this young man when I first met him could justifiably be described as withdrawn, angry, prone to outbursts, unwilling to listen and extremely difficult to work with. (I should know my job is a youth worker with North Ayrshire Council).

Today I would describe Declan as helpful, willing to take part, a team player, a good communicator, a delightful person to be around and a vital part of the Irvine Wolves Twilight Basketball Session.

Declan has actively helped me to deliver Educational timeouts on subjects ranging from LGBTQ+ rights, the white ribbon campaign against domestic violence, bullying, bigotry and racism.

He now attends the Glasgow Rocks college programme in Glasgow and is an independent self-assured young man, we love having Declan at our sessions and really admire the hard work he has put in to transform his life.

The last thing I will say about this nomination is this, when I first attended the session some of the young people wanted Declan removed, 14 months later and the group democratically and by a huge margin voted for Declan to receive this nomination.

Declan is more than worthy of this award.

 

Just in case Declan should not win this award I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all the wonderful staff at Twilight Basketball and Scottish Sports Futures who have actively supported us in this whole process and have been a constant source of knowledge and understanding to our specific needs.

 

Ambassador of the Month

We are delighted to announce that the Ambassador of the month award for September goes to Irvine’s Declan MacDougall.

“I am thrilled to have won the award and feel even better about bringing hopefully the first of many to Irvine as I continue to achieve my goals and help at my Twilight session”. Declan MacDougall

Declan’s Mentor, John Bell, had this to say; “I believe Declan to be the perfect example of what the ambassador program can achieve.

He has went from being withdrawn and very selective about his interactions to being involved and open with everyone in the session. It is my firm belief that this has also helped Declan excel outside of the sessions and now become not only an active participant in this basketball group but out in the wider community. Declan is a credit to himself, his family, this session and the Shell Twilight Basketball/SSF program”.

Shell Twilight Basketball Coaches/Mentors Orrin McNaughton, John Bell along with Declan MacDougall and fellow ambassador Jamie McDougall.

Shell Twilight Girls Boost Confidence With Sport

 By Demi Mitchell, Shell Twilight Basketball Coordinator

Growing up can be a difficult time for most young females; dealing with different emotions, coming into contact with new people and different personalities, and recognising their own bodies are going through a change. Learning how to mentally and physically cope with this can be a challenging time.

This, for me, is why encouraging young girls to be physically active is so important. The Shell Twilight Girls sessions have provided the girls with a fun and active environment, where they can come and express how they feel in a safe space with the young person at the heart of the session.

Educational time-outs allow youth workers and coaches to break down the barriers for girls who want to be active and open up the discussion of topics such as bullying, body image or self-confidence that may be an issue for young girls in a fun and active way.

 

Shell Twilight Coordinator Demi with coach Chanelle and participants from Shell Twilight Girls

Shell Twilight Coordinator Demi with coach Chanelle and participants from Shell Twilight Girls

 

The benefits girls gain from being physically active are endless; from feeling good about yourself and boosting your confidence, to having a group of friends that you can express how your day has been. This is why every girl should have the opportunity to be active and to help them keep their mind and body healthy, as well as making themselves HAPPY!

Every female taking part in sport no matter what level is 100% an inspiration to every other female they come into contact with and should never forget the impact they could have on another female.

Demi and Chanelle at a Shell Twilight Girls session

Demi and Chanelle at a Shell Twilight Girls session

Shell Twilight Basketball Introduces Ambassador of the Month Award

We are delighted to present our first Shell Twilight Basketball ‘Ambassador of the Month Award’ to Stranraer’s Connor Pomroy.

The award is aimed at recognising the amazing work our young people are doing in communities all over Scotland.

Connor had this to say on Friday night,

“I am shocked to be ambassador of the month as it is the first to be presented in Stranraer.  It goes to show that I am showing the positive attitudes that people notice and praise me for.  Even with the changes to the session and it being quiet just now I will continue to push myself and others at the session to reach my potential and hopefully continue to be recognised and nominated for future awards”.

Connor’s mentor Chris Muir said,

“Congratulations Connor, you deserve the award for all the hard work and dedication you have shown during the sessions.  With this as a boost, I hope it drives you to achieve more in both sport and your personal development.  This award shows that you have the ability to recognise your strengths and increase your confidence.  I look forward to seeing what the future holds for you”.

 

Shell Twilight Basketball’s first Ambassador of the Month Chris Pomroy from Stranraer