Comment: ‘We must all hope its work can continue’

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The pride on the faces of the young graduates after completing their training at The Engine Shed tells its own story.

The certificates they received from the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland represented a huge step for these young people and their families.

Just a few months ago, many struggled for the confidence to acquire some basic life skills. Today, their lives are transformed.

Two of the graduates are starting work, something they could only have dreamed about until recently, and others are set to follow.

The moving ceremony at the social enterprise’s St Leonard’s bakery and cafe was another reminder of the life-changing work that this much-loved charity carries out.

Thankfully we know that this will not be the last time that young people from Edinburgh will make this remarkable journey.

The outcry from 10,000 people who signed a protest petition – which was echoed by this newspaper – helped ensure they will receive city council funding for at least another year. Beyond that, the future is still uncertain.

There is still a risk that The Engine Shed will fall foul of the new orthodoxy being pushed by the Scottish Government, that it is better to place vulnerable people in work and then train them, rather than doing it the other way around. There is no doubt that this approach works for many people who need the kind of extra support that The Engine Shed offers.

But as with any one-size-fits-all solution, there are those who will slip through the net. Some people need a lot of extra support and care before they are ready to step into the world of work. For them, The Engine Shed is a godsend.

We must hope that ways can be found to ensure the charity can continue to receive the support it needs to carry on beyond the next 12 months. In the meantime, there is one practical thing we can all do to help – go to lunch or pick up some shopping from the excellent bakery next time you’re near St Leonards.