Link Up works closely with people in communities facing significant social and economic challenges, to improve wellbeing and bring people together. Anna* tells her story of the support she received from the work of Link Up in the Gallatown.
Poverty, deprivation, social exclusion and lack of opportunities have had a massively detrimental impact in the Gallatown and it has been in serious decline for years. I’ve spent most of my life thinking this is how life is – but why should it be? I want a better place for my family and friends to live, better prospects and a safe and secure community we’re proud of.
A few years ago, I lost my job which led me to become socially isolated and compounded my problems. Luckily for me, I also met the Gallatown Link Up Worker and got involved in some local activities. I began to realise I had something to offer and by having access to opportunities in my own community, I started to build on my skills which helped me regain some of the confidence and self-belief I had lost.
Getting involved in these projects made me feel good about myself, and gave me something productive and fun to do instead of the usual day-to-day activities of vegetating in front of the TV or going on benders for days on end.
Most of my family have been involved in Link Up and I have seen the difference it has made. Before Link Up, everyone was sceptical of local services, outside organisations, groups and even one another. I’m not saying that’s not the case anymore, but we are supporting each other and work with local services and organisations.
One of the most important Link Up projects for me was Soggy Sports – which started with a couple of us taking a group of bairns up to the local park.
This developed into the Gallatown Youth Club, where I was really lucky to get a Youth Work position. The Youth Club was run in one room in the local Bowling Club. We didn’t have much space but with help from the young people and local volunteers, we came up with creative ideas, utilised the space we had and created a really successful Youth Club. The Bowling Club wound up in 2017, but with funding from The National Lottery and Robertson Trust a new community centre will be built and the Youth Club and Link Up activities will be there.
A lot has happened since then – I applied for a youth work apprenticeship with Kirkcaldy YMCA and was successful in getting a place. I didn’t even know what a Youth Worker or Community Worker was until I started volunteering through Link Up and then I became one. I completed my HNC and went to University to study Community Learning and Development and got a first! I left school with almost no qualifications and to have gone to uni and done so well is still hard to believe. Now I’m a Community Worker with Fife council and I can use everything I’ve learned with Link Up to help others.
For me, Link Up has been life changing and I’ve seen a huge change in a lot of people I know. Seeing so many people get involved in organising things like the local Gala and toddler groups, play groups and going out cycling and doing pottery is inspiring. That’s why I went to university – to help bring about the same kind of change in other communities. People matter and people care. They just need somebody to care about what they care about!
*Anna’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
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