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Concern over lack of things for children to do

Lerwick South councillor Amanda Westlake.

CONCERNS about the lack of activities for children to do in Lerwick during the summer as more families struggle to afford to take trips south was raised at the town’s community council meeting on Monday night.

 Lerwick South councillor Amanda Westlake said while “millions and millions” have been spent on the likes of the Clickimin Leisure Complex, not every child wants to take part in sports activities.

She added that there are long waiting lists for groups like the brownies and scouts due to a lack of volunteers.

Westlake, who raised the concerns on behalf of her constituents, said she will take the issue forward to Shetland Islands Council officers to look for solutions.

“I think it was mentioned in the community council tonight that a lot of the units and facilities that bairns will use, like the brownies and the scouts, it’s all facilities for volunteers,” she said after the meeting.

“But if you don’t have the volunteers, the bairns are waiting at least a year, maybe two years, to get a space on this. So I do think it is a bit of an issue at the moment.

“I’ll be getting in touch with [council] officers with some information on where I can direct this back to the people who’s getting in touch with me.

“What can be done for the bairns and the families that can’t afford to leave Shetland in the summer time, what can we offer our bairns that is fun?”

At the meeting, chairman Jim Anderson reiterated that a lack of people willing to help run activities could be the main problem.

“All the buildings are there, but it’s getting folk to run the facility,” he said.

Westlake added that for families who are interested in sports, some may find it hard to afford a membership at the Clickimin.

“As a community, are we missing a trick somewhere?” she asked.

The town could benefit from more regular youth club sessions, the meeting heard, while a dedicated soft play facility would also be beneficial.

Lerwick South councillor Beatrice Wishart suggested activities like geocaching – where people use GPS to find and hide items, particularly in the countryside – is one way of keeping families busy and active.

She added that Scalloway Youth Centre could be something to aspire to as it remains busy with a range of actives on offer.

It was also suggested at the meeting that greater concerns over children’s safety means parents are more likely to send their kids to supervised events rather than let them roam the town.

Westlake said decades ago “folk would slip [their children] out the door and they never really cared where they were at, because they were always safe, but the whole culture of Lerwick seems to be changing.”