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Students at Castlebay Community School have secured £3000 for the Uist and Barra Foodbank through the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI), supported by ferry operator CalMac.

The S3 team, made up of Ellie, Comghall and Demi, impressed the judges with their depth of research and use of statistics, as well as their passion for the social issue and their business case for the £3000 grant.

The students expressed their surprise at the level of demand for the food bank and wanted to raise awareness of its vital role for many local families. 

The live YPI Final Showcase was held in the school with judges Sineag Blane, Iagan MacNeil, Dr. Scott McMinn, Penny Burgess, and Mairead Campbell, as well as Sean Harrison from CalMac, attending virtually.

The judges were impressed with the team’s sensitive handling of the topic and protecting the confidentiality of service users.

The funds will be used for to buy fresh food supplies for families, support the Christmas box appeal, and contribute to the purchase of fridges in order to store fresh foods.

Claire Rafferty leads YPI at Castlebay Community School. She said:"This programme is so important because it really helps open the eyes of the young people to the issues our community faces. It helps to develop empathy and allows the pupils to show passion about what social issues really matter to them. It shows the pupils that these issues aren't beyond their and that actually they can make a big difference in their community.” 

CalMac is the regional funding partner for the active citizenship programme. Its team supports judging panels, as well as mentoring finalist teams to develop meaningful, creative, and impactful presentations.

Sean Harrison, Customer Advisor for CalMac in Stornoway, said:“I have always had a keen interest in my local community and by participating in the YPI final, I have been able to learn more about the invaluable work that local projects are undertaking within Uist and Barra.

“The student presentations were superb and their passion for their communities was very evident. A big well done to the students, the school and mentors involved. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I am glad that a local project has benefited as a result of this rewarding process.”

Gillian Harrogate, Business Support Lead for CalMac, said: “The level of performance and commitment from S3 pupils was extremely impressive. Mentoring was a great opportunity to influence and support young people through the YPI process.”

Ellie was in the winning team. She said:"The mentor helped us get our ideas on paper and present them better. He gave us helpful advice that will help us in later life as well.”

Her teammate Comghall would now like to do more with charities and Demi-Leigh shared she now knew a lot more about the local community.

Claire Rafferty added:" In such a small school, it can be quite challenging for pupils to speak to other adults outwith our small community, so the mentoring has really helped to improve the pupils' confidence. It also helps form strong group dynamics and encourages better teamwork when the pupils are given a time to go out and speak to their own mentors, as a team.”

This is the third year CalMac has supported YPI, a programme of The Wood Foundation which empowers young people to make a difference in their communities while developing key skills. YPI is delivered in more than 250 schools nationally and has empowered more than 230,000 young people to take responsibility for channelling more than £5m to Scotland’s social service charities.       

Alex Reid, YPI Delivery Lead at The Wood Foundation, said:“Congratulations to the young people at Castlebay for committing so fully to this opportunity to raise awareness for causes they care about.

“The mentoring offered by CalMac is very important and supported young people to gain vital real-world advice to bring their presentations to life. The impact was clear to see during the YPI Final Showcase. Our thanks to CalMac for its ongoing funding support, empowering young people to positively impact their local community.”

Volunteer Centre Western Isles supports the delivery of YPI throughout the Western Isles.