Youth project halted as investigation begins

Helen Henderson, right, was project co-ordinator for the Farming 4 All scheme
Helen Henderson, right, was project co-ordinator for the Farming 4 All scheme
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An investigation is under way into why a Borders youth project has been suspended amid claims that money has run out.

Farming 4 All project co-ordinator Helen Henderson has claimed she has been sacked after raising concerns about the project’s accounts, and says she is owed over £2,000.

The scheme, operating in Kelso and Berwickshire since February 2013, introduced 14 to 16-year-olds to farming and related rural industries, with the option of working towards a vocational qualification.

Teenagers participating in the project have now been told they can’t continue.

The project was being run by Berwick-based social enterprise Journey to Self, who received almost £50,000 from Big Lottery Scotland for a series of farm and countryside workshops and training courses.

But with six months of the project left to run, it has suddenly been suspended.

A spokesperson for Big Lottery Scotland has confirmed that final payment instalments have been stopped.

They added: “We understand that some issues have been raised about the operation of this project. We are currently looking into these in order to establish the facts.”

Mrs Henderson claims she was sacked after whistleblowing about her concerns over Farming 4 All’s accounts.

Her allegations include being owed more than £2,000 in wages and expenses, and that there is less than £300 in the project’s accounts when there should be around £8,500.

But Maxine Lock of Journey to Self said: “Matters concerning Helen Henderson’s dismissal from the project are confidential.

“The Farming 4 All project is currently suspended by Journey to Self and we will let you know in due course if the project will continue or not. Any other matters concerning funding are confidential between Journey to Self and Big Lottery Scotland.

“We are disappointed that the project has been suspended, but in the current circumstances Journey to Self had no choice but to take this action.”

She added: “We regret the impact that this may have on the young people who were hoping to gain a qualification.”

Local youth workers have expressed their disappointment at the apparent demise of the project.