First Minister visits ‘inspirational’ youth project that transforms lives

The First Minister has met with members of an organisation that helps build the skills and confidence of some of Scotland’s most vulnerable young people.

Heavy Sound in Cockenzie, East Lothian, welcomed Humza Yousaf to its premises (pictured), where youngsters showed off their musical, creative, and martial arts skills – with Humza even donning a pair of boxing gloves and training with one of the young people.

Heavy Sound strives to improve the health and wellbeing of young people through giving them a variety of creative outlets and gives them the chance to earn many different qualifications.

Many of the young people who attend Heavy Sound come from disadvantaged backgrounds, with some having problems in their personal lives and with education.

The organisation also works with adults involved in the criminal justice system who are looking to reform their lives.

The Scottish Government has funded Heavy Sound through its Social Innovation Partnership since 2019.

It is also part of STV’s Children’s Appeal, which works with the Scottish Government to help children living in poverty.

The First Minister praised the organisation as “inspirational” for its work with young people.

He said: “We were delighted, of course, alongside the STV appeal, to be able to fund excellent organisations like Heavy Sound because they provide a safety net for a lot of young people who have been struggling in relation to education and been struggling in relation to some of the family trauma that they’ve been facing.

“And what Heavy Sound does is it provides them with that really person-centred approach in order to help them through whatever challenges they’re facing in life.”

He added: “I think because they’re working with individuals one-to-one, Heavy Sound is able to provide that personalised support to an individual.”

Heavy Sound was officially founded by Jordan Butler in 2015, but he had been working with young people since 2011.

He cites his own personal experience of childhood trauma, homelessness, and addiction as reasons why he founded Heavy Sound.

Asked what it is like watching the young people he works with grow into happy, confident individuals, he said: “If I speak about it too much I’ll cry, because it’ll stay with you for life.

“We learn more from them than they could ever learn from us.

“And when young people come to us, they come in for a number of different reasons from a number of different backgrounds with a wide range of challenges that they face day-to-day, and just watch them grow.”

He added: “I’m also a parent. We parent everybody that comes in here and I parent my own kids.

“It’s like watching one of your kids grow up. And we’re with them for all of that journey until they’re ready not to be at Heavy Sound any more.”

Ali and Ellie are two youngsters who have been supported by Heavy Sound.

Ali travels to Heavy Sound every Monday to record and produce new music with friends.

He said: “It’s definitely boosted my confidence. I couldn’t get my lyrics out before and now, couple of years down the line, I’m completely different.”

Ali explained he grew up without a father, stating Jordan had become “like a role model or father figure” in his life.

Ellie, a keen artist, also attends Heavy Sound each week where she enjoys painting and regular trips to art galleries.

She said: “The support you get at Heavy Sound is absolutely crazy because there’s so many different people with different personalities. You’re bound to get along with someone.”

She added: “You’ve got a lot of good role models to look up to, it really is like a wee family.”

Elizabeth Butler, youth services manager, said working for the organisation is “the most beautiful and most rewarding thing that you could choose to do with your life”.

She added: “It’s changed me as a person, it’s changed my life.”

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