I am moving on. I have not made this decision lightly, but after much careful consideration I feel it is now time for me to move on from the role of CEO of the East Kilbride Community Trust, and to look to take on a new challenge. So much has happened over my last 11 years with the Charity that I would just like to take this opportunity to share with you some of our wonderful achievements.
Of our many campaigns the two that stand out for me were when we asked the Scottish government to allow Cole Thompson (age 6) access to prescription cannabis-based medicine in order to save his life and when we raised over £69,000 to enable Max McGhie (then aged 13) to receive lifesaving brain surgery in the USA. Cole is now back at school sporting his cheeky wee grin and his health is improving daily and Max now 18, is out of his wheelchair, having daily adventures with his PA’s and is always smiling with that smile of his that can light a room.
The charity is very lucky to have two highly valued facilities, though for very different reasons, that aim to encourage our community to be more active and help break down social isolation barriers. K-Park Training Academy, situated within the grounds of Calderglen Country Park, home to over 40 local football teams and servicing over 300,000 people per annum; and K-Woodlands, a National Award winning 16.16 hectare community urban woodland offering over 200 free community events every year, that we are now pleased to welcome over 10,000 attendees per year too and is the only social urban woodland in the West of Scotland to be owned by a charity and not fall under the remit of the local authority.
One of our most successful social justice programmes “Move the Goal Posts”, was a diversionary program that we were able to support at K-Park Training Academy. This project utilised football as a tool to divert young people from gang participation, antisocial behaviour, drug, and alcohol misuse. Over a two-year period, it was shown to have saved the government over £4 million from their Law and Order Budget. Last year at K-Woodlands we hosted East Kilbride’s first autism and family friendly Pride event as it coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which is widely viewed as a turning point in the modern fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights.
Not forgetting our “Art in the Woods” project from which world renowned environmental artist, Rob Mulholland created 5 sculptures after our community art competition engaged with over 10,000 children from 27 schools and raised awareness amongst their families of a local space they can visit and enjoy – instilling a sense of pride of place.
One of our more recent projects was aimed at combatting food poverty and social isolation in the more vulnerable in our community, an issue that has only been compounded due to the COVID pandemic. Working in partnership with South Lanarkshire Council’s Community Engagement Team, Local food groups and charities, not to mention being supported by you through our recycle and reuse plastics campaign, we have been able to produce enough fresh vegetable to touch the lives of over 10,000 people.
This project was an excellent complement to our earlier Outdoor Healthy Lives Learning Project that taught children from local ASN Bases and Primary Schools within East Kilbride where the food on their plate came from through growing vegetables in our community allotments. The lessons learned were aligned with the early to second stages of the “Curriculum for Excellence” and encouraged family health eating.
Between both facilities, the charity has helped address social equality; created didactic art; embraced and satisfied the National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education in Health and Wellbeing, Literacy and Numeracy; and encouraged the Sustainable Management of Forests and Aquatic Habitats. Partnership working has been key to ensuring that we were able to target our projects around the people in our community that are consistently and systematically excluded or are most in need.
I am really pleased to have been able to make a difference in our towns children’s lives through my work firstly at Jackton Amateur Boxing Club then at East Kilbride Amateur Boxing Club both of which help youngsters get fit, confident and learn about manners, discipline and respect in a safe inclusive environment. I have so loved being a part of the Sunday Club Family for the last 8 years. There are many important messages and transferable skills that children and young adults learn from playing football and I am so happy to have been able to widen access to sports for those with disabilities, as when done right, inclusivity can do wonders for children who would have been traditionally excluded from sports.
Without doubt one of my favourite things was to organise the fantastic ASN children’s Christmas parties. Over the last 8 years we were able to host this event at one of the Trustees homes, with the last event hosting over 800 attendees. They were really fantastic community events that were an absolute joy to be involved with and could not have been run so successfully if it were not for all the help and support from volunteers, staff, family members, friends, and local businesses.
I am overjoyed with all the East Kilbride Community Trust has achieved in the last eleven+ years. I would very much like to thank: everyone that has volunteered their time; those who have donated goods or money; all of our partners for sharing their wonderful skills, resources and experience; all of our funders for their continued belief in our vision as our town’s population grows, to help combat social urban decay by working with the community for the betterment of our town; and finally, everyone that has ever been a part of the trust for the experiences we have shared, many lessons we’ve learned and all the fun we’ve had.
I am proud to say that I was once the CEO of this incredible charity and of the part I played in the projects we undertook together. I wish it nothing but the best in its future and look forward to reading about the new projects as they emerge, but it is time for a new challenge for me and to take that experience into my next venture. Though I am sad to leave I will always look back on my time fondly.
Best wishes, Monique