A SUCCESSFUL youth initiative in south Lochaber could be forced to shut down unless new funding can be secured within weeks.
The Two Lochs Project, which is based within Kinlochleven High School, is now entering its fifth year but its current financial support is set to run out in October.
The project was established by the local churches in the area and provides youth clubs, support, recreational and social activities for scores of teenagers.
Hazel Batty was the first youth worker and helped kick-start the project and when she left she was replaced by Justin Richards, who has now been in his post for three years.
During this time Two Lochs has grown and there are now youth clubs in each village of south Lochaber, providing a social lifeline for young people from the outlying areas who use them to meet up with their friends.
The busiest youth club is the weekly Friday night “Drop-In” in Ballachulish which has seen upwards of 60 youngsters attend during busy periods.
During the school holidays subsidised activities are provided and this summer there have been organised trips to M&Ds theme park in Lanarkshire, Landmark, Laser Quest, shopping at Braehead in Glasgow, a ceilidh at Nevis Range and the newly re-opened cinema in Oban to see ‘Brave’. Two youth clubs have been run every week in Ballachulish and Onich.
A small group of sixth year pupils also went on a trip to Arizona and California in the USA to talk about life in Britain in a high school and learn about Native American culture.
The Two Lochs Project also continued its community involvement scheme with some senior high school pupils undertaking work experience in Abbeyfield, Ballachulish.
An online Facebook campaign called “Save our Justin” -https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurJustin - has been launched by youngsters from Kinlochleven, Ballachulish, Glencoe, Duror and Onich and in its first week more than 150 people had demonstrated their support.
Mr Richards told the Lochaber News: “Our funding is now coming to an end quickly.
“We have been supported through these years mainly by larger charitable trusts who do not provide ongoing support so we are looking for finances to keep our project running and to do this, we need the encouragement and support of local people.
“The project has ambitious plans for the future and is striving to continue to make a difference by caring for and sharing with young people in south Lochaber.
Mr Richards added: “The Two Lochs Project has enabled local churches and volunteers to become engaged in a useful way with young people and allow them the opportunities to volunteer and be listened to, often leading to the provision of new activities.
“The project is also active within the high school offering a Wednesday youth club at lunchtime and a Scripture Union club on a Friday at lunchtime.
“The project also works closely with other agencies and organisations providing youth services and recently we have been trying to link in with youth groups based in Oban, Dunoon, Liang, and Glasgow which allows our local young people to make new friends and visit other areas.”
*If you would like to get involved email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Two Lochs Project, Kinlochleven High School, Riverside Road, Kinlochleven, PH50 4QH.