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biggar youth project
biggar youth project

Glenkerie Community Fund continues support for Biggar Youth Project

Biggar Youth Project (BYP) has received 5 grants totalling £24,995 from the Ventient Energy Glenkerie Wind Farm Community Fund over the past decade.

BYP is a SCIO which was established in 1996 in Biggar, South Lanarkshire and originally operated from the Old High School Building. BYP is a service that supports the mental health and well-being of the young people of Biggar and Clydesdale, through an updated approach to youth work provision.  

In 2002 BYP acquired the Old Auction Ring (cattle auction house) building, located in the Biggar conservation area.  Since its move, it has operated as a youth project centre, offering young people aged between 10 to 18 years (particularly those within the catchment area of Biggar High School) shelter, warmth, affordable food, a place to hang out, play games, access computers and a quiet space.  

The young people it supports typically face challenges related to loneliness, isolation, poverty, trauma, and difficulties with their peers around their gender or sexuality.

In addition, BYP offers support for young people at particular stages of their lives, for example the transition to high school and during exams. The organisation also offers the opportunity for informal accredited learning for young people through schemes such as the Saltire Award and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and is developing volunteering opportunities for young people who encounter barriers to employment.

The centre is regularly used by around 160 local residents, including children, young people and adults. Drop-in services are provided Monday to Friday.  The space hosts a Community Fridge accessible 11am-3pm, and provides space to other local groups, including a local photography group and a textile group.

Since 2015, the Glenkerie Fund has awarded 4 grants between £2K to £6.7K to support with salary and core running costs for the BYP. Most recently it awarded its 5th award of £10K to contribute towards a capital project to upgrade and refurbish the Youth Centre premises.

Centre refurb needed

In the early 2020s, it became apparent that the age of building meant that the gas heating system was not efficient, and the insulation was minimal.  

The building had minimal natural lighting; there were no external windows to the office, meeting rooms or small kitchen.

In 2022/2023, following consultation with both the BYP Board and the buildings user groups, it was agreed there was a need to undertake a refurbishment of the building.  

In parallel, a new Biggar Community Action Plan (published in 2022) highlighted the need for better facilities for young people in the town, and there have been frequent comments about this on local social media.


Developing refurb plans

A key part of the project design process included a consultation process with young people, BYP staff, users and volunteers. Along with its architects, Biggar Youth Project ran two sessions during school time to consult with young people from the area.

Session one focussed on the current building and findings highlighted concerns surrounding the building being dark and unwelcoming, cold and draughty especially on windy days, whilst having poor ventilation when it wasn’t windy! It was also felt that the décor was outdated.

The second session previewed plans for the refurbishment, which were enthusiastically received by the users of the building. There was a strong preference for neutral colours schemes and natural finishes augmented with occasional pops of colour and calming features such as plants.  

The refurbishment project aimed to take on board all feedback received during the consultations and incorporate key points into the design process.  These included improving the energy efficiency of the building to cut heating costs; reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the internal design, layout and facilities of the building so that it was warm, open and more welcoming.

BYP's Project Co-ordinator, staff and volunteers were heavily involved in the design of workspace areas such as the kitchen, office and storage space. A member of the BYP Board also gave a presentation on the refurbishment to Biggar and District Civic Society.


BYP appointed an architect to design the plans of the building after which planning consent and a building warrant were obtained.  As well as design plans, surveys for bats and asbestos were completed and a CCTV survey of the drainage system was undertaken.

Upon completion of the final plans, BYP displayed the plans for the refurbishment of the building and encouraged young people and others using the building to comment.

Following the plans, BYP engaged the next part of the process which was to secure funding for the project costs which were approximately £850k.  In 2023, BYP applied to the Glenkerie Fund and secured £10k to contribute towards the general overall building project costs including areas such as roof repairs, refurbishment of the bell tower, floor and wall insulation, installing new windows and skylights.  

The award from the Fund acted as seed funding to progress this project forward and gain momentum to attract further funding for the overall project, in total BYP secured the remaining £840k.

Work gets underway

Having appointed a professional project manager, the building refurb work was phased as follows:

  1. Removal of the existing internal structure.
  2. Installation of insulation to walls, floor and roof and alterations to the windows.
  3. Construction of the revised internal layout and installation of heat pump, plumbing and wiring and installation of solar panels.
  4. Internal decoration and installation of custom built-in features such as benches.
  5. General furnishing and equipment.

An exciting surprise was revealed when the roof work commenced, with the discovery of the original bell tower and its bell still intact. This bell was used to draw attention to the farmers who were taking a break at the pub located adjacent to the building and summoning them to the cattle auctions.  When news of its discovery was revealed, the local community shared fond memories of hearing it in the past and a desire to keep it in-situ.  It was agreed to refurbish the bell and make it available by young people to celebrate birthdays and ‘awesome people’!  

Nearly finished!

The refurbishment work is still underway with completion expected in late November 2024.  Subsequent issues with the roofing woodwork have prolonged implementation slightly, but the team are remaining positive and looking forward to welcoming people back into the building.  During the closures of the premises BYP has been conducting external outreach programmes to ensure its services remain available.

Dr Janet Moxley, Secretary and Board Member of the Biggar Youth Project who has been an integral part of the refurbishment project is excited to see the work nearing completion:

We are really grateful for the support from the Glenkerie Fund for the contribution to the project, it fits well with the renewable sustainability agenda for the windfarm.  This centre is a very important space and facility for the young people, it will give them pride of space now and for years to come.

Extra learning opportunities

BYP has sought to maximise learning opportunities from the refurb programme, by liaising with Biggar High School to invite older pupils to visit the build at suitable/safe stages to meet with the construction and design team and to ask questions and learn about the industry.  

The project has also opened up wider learning opportunities for the local community, in terms of sharing experiences with retrofitting energy efficient measures into buildings dated around the 1800s.  The group is sharing its learning with groups, businesses and local households and will host an open day in late 2024 which will allow the community to come and view the progress and ask questions about the energy efficient processes it has installed.

The BYP project has also empowered the local young people by listening to their thoughts throughout the consultation process and taking into consideration how they wished to see building shaped and designed.  The young people are now seeing their ideas being turned into reality and this is providing a greater sense of ownership of, and pride about, their space.

The benefits

It is estimated that around 160 children, young people and adults from Biggar will benefit immediately from the enhanced facility.  This number will increase over time, as future generations make use of the space.

Success factors

The Panel’s decision to award the initial £10K is a great example of how a small strategic award can support with leveraging an additional £840K which is transformative in term of impact and project success.

The Biggar Youth Project’s Centre refurbishment underscores the importance of local and user consultation, and aligning with Community Action Plans (CAPs), to maximise benefits from community benefit fund awards within the wider community.  The refurbishment will leave an impactful legacy for generations to come. 

The Ventient Energy Glenkerie Wind Farm Community Fund, involving community Panel decision-making and Foundation Scotland’s assessment of grant requests, demonstrated the importance of funding flexibilities.  Being able to provide grants to support BYP’s work in a range of ways over nearly a decade, most significantly towards the refurb project, reflects the value of longer-term funding which community benefit funds can offer.