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First Minister joins charity to celebrate five years of life-changing work

This news post is about 1 year old

Big Noise Douglas, run by Sistema, launched at the end of 2017. 

First Minister Humza Yousaf visited young participants of a music and social change programme to celebrate five years of its transformational work to tackle inequalities in Dundee.

Mr Yousaf attended a special concert put on by the children and young people of Big Noise Douglas on Saturday.

The programme, which is delivered by the charity Sistema Scotland, launched in the community at the end of 2017 and now works with over 500 children and their families every week.

Big Noise supports children and young people in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas to gain vital life skills such as confidence, resilience, creativity, and aspiration, and helps them reach their full potential.

Independent evaluation shows that it improves participants’ concentration and language skills and enhances their problem solving and decision-making, while also strengthening community ties through music and nurturing relationships.

Studies of the Big Noise model have also found it increases children’s self-esteem and allows them to develop strong friendships and support networks.

Mr Yousaf watched as children from Big Noise Douglas performed both traditional and modern music and dances.

He met parents and grandparents with children in Big Noise, who described the positive impact it has had on them and their families.

There was also a performance from the Big Noise Douglas community choir, as well as face painting, an ice cream van, and a fun educational visit from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

The event was held at Claypotts Castle Primary School, one of Big Noise Douglas’s partner schools, where young people were also joined by members of the community and staff and volunteers from the programme to mark the five-year milestone.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “It was a real treat to help Sistema Scotland celebrate Big Noise Douglas’s fifth birthday – and to enjoy the terrific entertainment on the day.

“I was also grateful for the opportunity to talk to young people and their families about the positive impact that the Big Noise programme has had on their lives.

“Reducing inequalities and tackling child poverty is a mission for the Scottish Government and we are proud to have supported Sistema Scotland with annual funding since 2012.”

It comes as Sistema celebrates 15 years of making a Big Noise in Scotland, with the charity launching its first programme in Raploch, Stirling, in 2008.

A reception to mark the anniversary will be held at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

There are now six centres supporting a combined 3,500 children and young people, including in Douglas, Dundee, Fallin, Stirling, Govanhill, Glasgow, Torry, Aberdeen, and Wester Hailes, Edinburgh.

All programmes provide after school care – reducing barriers for parents seeking work or training – and healthy food before music activity sessions.

A study by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health of the Raploch programme found that 98 per cent of participants achieved a positive post-school destination, compared to 84 per cent of young people of a similar background who did not attend.

Young people who attended Big Noise were more likely to be in employment after leaving school than their counterparts, with 42 per cent of attendees in employment as opposed to 30 per cent of non-attendees.

In 2021, the University of Dundee published an evaluation report on the first three years of Big Noise Douglas, which found the programme has a positive impact on academic-related skills and behaviours, such as engagement with learning.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government provided an additional £1.5 million to help fund Sistema's Big Noise programmes. 

Nicola Killean, chief executive of Sistema Scotland, said: “We are so pleased that the First Minister was able to join us as we marked the fifth birthday of Big Noise Douglas to see first-hand how the programme is transforming lives.

“Over the last five years, Big Noise has had a hugely positive impact on children and families in Douglas, improving their confidence and wellbeing and helping young people reach their full potential. 

“The concert itself was a huge success thanks to our young participants who put on a spectacular performance – they should be extremely proud of themselves.

“Events like this one is what Big Noise is all about – celebrating the positive achievements and potential in our communities.”