Action Kintore meeting

At the January Meeting of Kintore Community Council, a decision was made to set up a Sub Group to arrange a Public Meeting, to address the linked challenges of a lack of recreational facilities for young people, and address the escalating anti-social behaviour within the town.

Community Council Secretary Ken White was asked to chair this Sub Group.  Neil Stewart and Graham McDonald, both also Community Council members, together with Mark Reynolds and Kenny Thomson, volunteered.

Further assistance to the Sub Group was provided by Gina Ford, Aberdeenshire Council and Ken McEwen.  Gina’s skills in the innovative arrangement of meetings and Ken’s skills in media, publicity and Web Design were greatly appreciated by the Sub Group.

The Sub Group met several times, deciding first of all upon the Sub Group title ‘Action Kintore’ and then setting a date of 9 March for the Public Meeting.  The venue was to be Kintore Community School Gymnasium.

Publicity for the event included the compilation and distribution of over 1000 flyers to every house in Kintore, the display of posters in prominent positions in the town centre, media publicity which included an interview by Ken White on Northsound Radio and interaction with young people on the streets, in an attempt to have a good turnout of young people at the Meeting. 

The total cost of printing flyers and posters was £150 and all were hand delivered by Action Kintore. The total cost borne by the Community Council for the event was £250.

Invitations to the Public Meeting were extended to Ian Fowell, Garioch Area Manager, to Bruce Robertson, Head of Aberdeenshire Education and Recreation Department and to Police Inspector David Allan, Inverurie, who all volunteered to attend and form a panel of advisors. 

On the Monday prior to the Public Meeting, Action Kintore arranged a Pre-Meeting with an invited audience of Youth Organisation leaders, to explain what was intended.  All were very enthusiastic, many viewing the Public Meeting as an opportunity to recruit helpers or new members. Two members of staff from Aberdeenshire Council’s Community Learning Team, Annette Johnston and Liz Mackay, were also present and they were joined by a third member of staff, Naida Sneddon, at the Public Meeting.

About 180 members of the public attended the Public Meeting, of which approximately 35 were young people.

On arrival at the School Gymnasium, members of the public were asked to give written comments, as to what they thought was good and bad about Kintore, and what the perceived problems were.  Whilst this delayed the starting time of the meeting by fifteen minutes, Action Kintore considered it a very worthwhile exercise.  These written comments have since been ‘grouped’ by Gina Ford and transferred by Ken McEwen to the Kintore website www.kintore.org.uk.

Wall displays in the School foyer included the results of a Youth Questionnaire commissioned by the Community Council and completed by Kintore young people who attend Kemnay and Inverurie Academies. Also displayed were latest plans of the Community Café soon to be opened in the town.

The Public Meeting commenced with Iain Blair, the Community Council Chairman, giving a short address and the Objectives for the Meeting were then set by Kenny Thomson.  This was followed by inputs from Inspector Allan, Ian Fowell and Bruce Robertson and the meeting was then opened up for discussion with input from the public, youth leaders, and some of the young people present. 

An invaluable feature of the meeting was an invitation for the audience to volunteer their assistance with future youth projects, by leaving their names and contact numbers. 

Nicola Stewart, the Community Police Officer was well received when she gave an impromptu input.  Another positive input came from Colin Cribbes, Chairman of the Scout Council, who offered to help youngsters organise a disco. 

As the meeting was drawing to a close, Annette Johnston encapsulated Bruce Robertson’s view, which was that the Council needed to know what the young people of Kintore wanted, before any headway could be made in providing same. Annette’s input gave the Meeting some forward direction and a positive way to finish, as a commitment was made by her and her Community Learning Team to meet with youngsters, to discuss a way forward.

As the Meeting wore on, it was disheartening to see some of the young people leaving.  Some returned, but of interest and on a

positive note, those who did leave were met by a member of Action Kintore at the front door of the School and some positive and interesting dialogue took place, and views expressed which would otherwise not have been heard.

Informal comments received since the meeting included the view that it was not for young people. However, Action Kintore is of the view that it was not all about young people, as older generations needed to know that something was being done, to address the challenges of lack of youth facilities and antisocial behaviour, by people who are fit and capable of doing so and now that older people have been updated, the focus can be on resolving some of the issues.

Subsequent to the Public Meeting, a Press Release was compiled by Gina Ford and Kenny Thomson.  It was presented to the local newspapers by Ken White, who has been Action Kintore’s link with the media and has performed this role with considerable success.

The following has taken place, as a direct result of the Public Meeting.

Colin Cribbes followed up his offer, by arranging Meetings with a group of young people and their parents, at the Scout Hall, to discuss a disco.  A successful disco event took place within the Public Hall on Saturday 31 March. 

Annette Johnston and her Community Learning Team met with a small group of young people a week after the Public Meeting.  A much larger event for young people is scheduled for Thursday 5 April. Many activities are planned and the Public Hall, Scout Hall, Church Hall and School Gymnasium are all to host these, from 3pm – 9pm.  The days’ activities will culminate in a musical event incorporating a discussion forum, to gauge what and where future youth facilities are required within the town. These will be carried to Aberdeenshire Council.

Approximately forty five persons gave their names as ‘volunteers’, at the Public Meeting. Eight were young persons.  The remainder were all subsequently contacted by Kenny Thomson and many e-mail addresses were collated, with a view to easy future contact, as and when support is required at events within Kintore.

Most volunteers offered general assistance, but there were those who had specialist help in mind e.g. Boxing / Shinty / BMX racing and even the building of an eco-friendly building for youngsters. Some youngsters were seeking an area where they could ride their quad bikes.

Most of the above matters are at various stages of progression by Action Kintore, through consultation with landowners and information supplied by Aberdeenshire Council.

Three volunteers offered to help with football and their names were forwarded to Eddie Reid, of the Kintore Boys Football Club (under 12s). Subsequent to the Public Meeting, interest in the Boys Club has risen considerably, to the extent that more adult volunteers and pre-teen children have contacted Eddie Reid.  It is envisaged that a further two football teams (under 11s and under 10s) will be formed by August.

Another volunteer, Matthew Watt, is a student at Aberdeen University who, as a result of attending the Public Meeting, wishes to use Kintore as a Case Study in a ‘youth in the community’ project.  He has asked to attend Action Kintore meetings, to assess progress of the various measures being applied to address the challenges being faced in Kintore and will submit a dissertation to Aberdeen University in September. Having facilitated his study, Action Kintore will be seeking a copy of this work!

In conclusion, a positive start has been made. No more than that. It is clear that facilities alone cannot provide the answers to the challenges being faced within Kintore and it appears a far greater level of adult involvement with young people is necessary.

The Public Meeting has served as a ‘wake-up’ call to the population of Kintore and as a reminder that it is no longer a quiet village but a small town, with all the challenges that presents.
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