Jack Kane Community Centre

Dale hated school and didn’t know which path to take when he left. That was until his Erasmus+ Mobility placement which saw his life take a completely different direction.

16-year-old Dale grew up in the Greater Craigmillar area of Edinburgh which is considered to be the fourth most deprived area of Scotland. Like many of his peers, he hadn’t travelled outside of the UK until he was given the opportunity to take part in a youth exchange to Italy through his involvement with the Jack Kane Community Centre.

He has since completed his HNC in social sciences, secured employment as a youth work trainee and is also continuing his studies through University.

The Jack Kane Community Centre provides experiential learning opportunities for young people to learn and develop. Through the organisation’s first Erasmus+ youth Mobility project, all the young people who took part in the project have since progressed onto further education or employment.

Young participants aged between 15 and 21 took part in a youth exchange to the village of Strona in Italy. The exchange made use of non-formal learning approaches and tools such as discussion, group work and presentations on the central theme of employment across Europe. The young people chose the topics for the exchange, identifying jobs and future prospects as priority issues for all young people. From this, they went on to set the agenda and organise the exchange project, visiting partners in Italy and exploring these topics with their Italian counterparts.

100% of the young people who took part have progressed into further education or employment

Emma Kyles, Senior Worker of the Jack Kane Community Centre said participants faced a range of challenges in their personal lives. Residents of the Greater Craigmillar area were well below the national average with regards to income and there were poor statistics relating to health and qualifications. She added some of the young people involved also had a background in violent crime.

As a result, before the project the organisation did a range of preparatory activities with the young people. This involved inviting their parents and carers to an informal evening where they could find out more about the exchange. Emma explained the organisation’s support ranged from guiding participants through the passport application process for the first time, to extensive baseline evaluations with the young people. This helped to establish the young people’s aspirations for the future.

Participants were asked to write personal letters about what they wanted to achieve, as well as to keep video and personal diaries to capture what they had learnt.

Before I went on the exchange I was scared to speak out loud in front of large groups of people but now, after the exchange, I know I can do it. - Dale, participant

Inspiring young people with fewer opportunities

Emma Kyles, Senior Worker of the Jack Kane Management Committee, said: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young people. All the participants involved in the project were affected by multiple levels of deprivation but all of them are now in further education or employment. This was a wonderful opportunity for everyone involved, providing a remarkable hands-on learning environment which encouraged young people to fully embrace new experiences.” 

“I feel I have become more confident about speaking in front of everyone and I learnt so much about different cultures. Before I went on the exchange I was scared to speak out loud in front of large groups of people but now, after the exchange, I know I can do it." - Dale, participant.

Sustainability of Erasmus+ funding

Since returning to Scotland the young people are making the most of their future careers. One participant is now in full-time employment and has moved into his own house which he would not have had the confidence to do beforehand. Another has since completed her college studies, undertaken a nursing degree and is now about to travel to the Philippines as a volunteer nurse. She continues to share her first aid skills with young people at the youth centre to pass on her learning.

The project used Youthpass, which recognised the young people’s achievements and gave participants something they can show to future employers.

Participants have continued to share their experience with stakeholders and the management team. They also produced a set of recommendations following the project acting as a mandate for youth work and these actions have been implemented by the centre for future projects.

Notes to editors

  1. The Erasmus+ UK National Agency is a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK
  2. For more information on Erasmus+ funding in Scotland 2014-2016 download our factsheet (984 KB)
  3. Please email us for any further information including copies of images: [email protected]