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Council urged to support Aberdeen Big Noise social intervention programme


The calls follow threats to have funding axed in Dundee. 

Councillors in Aberdeen have been urged to continue support for a transformational social intervention programme following threats to axe funding for its sister project in Dundee.

The charity Sistema Scotland, which runs the Big Noise centre in Torry – one of the city’s most disadvantaged communities – is concerned it could face a major funding shortfall amid pressures on local authority finances.

Aberdeen City Council is due to decide its own budget on Wednesday, March 1, but no confirmation has yet been received that a partnership agreement to pay 75 per cent of annual programme costs will be honoured as expected.

In Dundee, council officials have sparked anger by suggesting ending all financial support for the Big Noise Douglas programme, which helps young people reach their full potential and achieve more positive outcomes when they leave school.

That has prompted more than 1,300 people to sign a petition and contact their local councillors, with a direct plea to be heard ahead of the budget decision by politicians this Thursday.

In Aberdeen, Sistema Scotland was approached directly by Aberdeen City Council to bring a Big Noise programme to the city. 

The city council has a signed partnership agreement which commits both parties to sustaining the long-term future of Big Noise Torry.

In recognition of the challenging financial situation, Sistema Scotland has proposed a reduced investment for 2023/24.

Big Noise Torry launched in Aberdeen in July 2015 and supports more than 750 children and young people from the community. 

This includes babies and toddlers in Little Noise, and nursery and primary school-aged children at its partner primary schools Walker Road and Tullos.

The programme, which has 30 members of staff and seven volunteers, also works with secondary-aged pupils from Lochside Academy and supports children who live in Torry but attend school elsewhere. 

Through music and targeted intervention, the programmes equip young people with the confidence, discipline, strength and resilience they will need as they move into adulthood.

Big Noise Torry has been the subject of three independent evaluation reports by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) and Education Scotland. 

The studies found that participation in Big Noise Torry has a positive impact on educational skills as well as broader social and life skills.

Alongside Torry, Sistema Scotland runs Big Noise programmes in Douglas in Dundee, Govanhill in Glasgow, Wester Hailes in Edinburgh and Raploch and Fallin in Stirling.

A long-term evaluation of Big Noise by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) has shown that the programmes help children reach their full potential, improves their confidence, health and wellbeing, and supports them to go on to a positive destination after leaving school.

Nicola Killean, chief executive of Sistema Scotland, said: “For nearly eight years, we have provided respectful and empowering support to children and their families in Torry – improving their confidence and mental health and wellbeing, and helping young people reach their full potential.

“During a cost-of-living crisis, our transformational work is more important than ever.

“The shock recommendation made by Dundee City Council officials to scrap funding for the Douglas project is devastating for the community there, and threatens the life chances of a generation of children.

“We have had an exemplary relationship and partnership with Aberdeen City Council since the beginning of Big Noise Torry.

“We urge Aberdeen councillors to urgently demonstrate their commitment to the Torry community and ensure that together we can continue to support the children who need us the most.”



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