Spartans secure funding boost to expand facilities

John Swinney meets Conor Edmonds and young Spartans players
John Swinney meets Conor Edmonds and young Spartans players
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A COMMUNITY football academy which works with hundreds of young people in the Capital was today handed a £150,000 grant to expand its activities.

Finance Secretary John Swinney visited Spartans Community Football Academy at Ainslie Park to announce a series of Scottish Government grants to community organisations across Scotland totalling £6 million.

More than 600 groups applied for a share of the cash from the Enterprise Growth Fund and today Mr Swinney named the 60 charities and social enterprises which will receive grants of between £25,000 and £200,000.

Spartans, who already work with more than 600 children and young people, will use the money to extend their current premises, allowing them to work with more people in the community.

They plan to build two extra changing rooms and increase the size of their club room, which is used for a range of youth work activities and community events.

The increased space will allow them to generate more income, which they will invest in community projects such as Spartans Smilers, which uses football to promote good dental hygiene, and Street Football in a Safe Place, which allows young people to use their facilities after school to play, socialise and develop life skills.

Spartans work with people of all ages. Since the academy opened, the number of youth- related nuisance calls in the local area has fallen significantly.

Mr Swinney met a number of youngsters who will benefit from the new facilities including Conor Edmonds, 18, who now works at the academy after being expelled from school. He started as a volunteer, but now has a full-time role with Spartans. He said: “Before I started to volunteer at the academy I was in real danger of going down the wrong track. The people at the academy gave me a chance, they believed in me. Working here has changed my life.”

Mr Swinney said he was pleased the Enterprise Growth Fund was now up and running and delivering support to organisations such as the academy.

He said: “The Scottish Government recognises the important contribution that third-sector bodies make to our economy. They create employment opportunities, improve our public services and at the same time reach out to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“The Enterprise Growth Fund is a great way to help these organisations become sustainable and reach their full potential in the current economic climate.”

Craig Graham, chairman of the Spartans academy, said the funding would allow them to work with even more local youngsters.

“We expect to have over 100 more each week at the academy involved in a range of indoor and outdoor activities. In particular, our indoor space will include a dance floor which will attract more girls to have fun and stay active”.

Other groups in the Capital to benefit from the fund include Gorgie City Farm, which secured a grant of £34,946, and the Edinburgh Community Food Initiative, which was awarded £45,800.