BSLT has youth crime on the run

Eawn Jackson, Chief Executive of Borders Sport and leisure Trust working in partnership with Borders College and Heriot Watt Univ.
Eawn Jackson, Chief Executive of Borders Sport and leisure Trust working in partnership with Borders College and Heriot Watt Univ.

A PROGRAMME that helped to cut youth crime in Hawick is set to be rolled out across the Borders, writes Kenny Paterson.

Teviotdale Leisure Centre hosted 2,200 children for fun sessions over six Friday evenings – and the initiative’s success means Borders Sport and Leisure Trust and Lothian and Borders Police’s safer communities team are looking to repeat the scheme in other towns across the region.

BSLT chief executive Ewan Jackson said: “It was satisfying to hear the safer communities team say they had witnessed fewer incidents of petty vandalism in Hawick while the sessions were on. It was really good to get that feedback and the programme worked extremely well.

“We had 350 children attend each week who would otherwise have been out on the streets and we are hoping to roll it out across other towns in the Borders.”

The programme is one of a number of partnerships BSLT, which will take over the running of active schools and sports development services from Scottish Borders Council next month, is involved in.

Among them is the TriFitness gym in Galashiels, which has attracted 800 members since it opened in August last year.

Mr Jackson added: “It has proved a popular and excellent facility so far for all three partners – Heriot-Watt University, Borders College and ourselves.

“Borders College uses TriFitness for educational purposes, specifically their Borders Academy of Sporting Excellence (BASE) course. The rugby players are regularly in the gym, along with the footballers and cyclists from the programme. Also, Heriot-Watt’s students in the town use the facility for its out-of-hours classes and for leisure purposes.

“One of Borders Sport and Leisure Trust’s main aims is to meet the needs of the community and we feel TriFitness has managed that.

“The centre is only around a year old, but we are hoping to develop the partnership further in the future.”

Among the other agencies which work with BSLT is NHS Borders. Joint initiatives have included programmes to tackle child obesity, mental health and keep-fit classes for older people, along with a lifestyle advisory service.

Mr Jackson told us: “A doctor can refer a patient who they believe would benefit from a more active lifestyle to a lifestyle advisor from NHS Borders. They would then approach and engage with BSLT to provide a service at one of our facilities. Although it is in its early stages, we are very excited about this scheme.”

Dr Alan Mordue, consultant in public health medicine with NHS Borders and a trustee of BSLT, said: “The partnership is working very well and what is nice to see is that the trust and NHS Borders are working together more and more.

“Among the initiatives we both work on is our outreach programme which visits village halls to provide active sessions for people who do not have easy access to sports pitches and gyms.”