Craig Hoy, a Conservative MSP for South Scotland, last week visited the Ridge Project in Dunbar where he was joined by founder Kate Darrah, Support Officer Gill Last and volunteers whose lives have been impacted by the project.
The Ridge started 10 years ago as a community-run garden for residents and visitors of Dunbar to enjoy.
Today, the Ridge runs a number of sites in Dunbar – including one in the Blacklands and one in Empire Close. These two garden sites have been transformed from derelict and disused land behind Dunbar High Street into green space which the whole community can enjoy.
The Ridge provides SQA-approved training in stone masonry and joinery for young people from local schools, as well as apprenticeships for those out of education. Apprentices from the project use these skills to repair walls around the gardens, restore dilapidated buildings in the vicinity and construct buildings to support the community.
The project’s Support Team also offers help and advice for residents of the town, and volunteers from the Ridge make up “Sunny Soups” which can be collected from the free food freezer in the Bleachingfield Community Centre – using food that would otherwise go to landfill, to help combat food poverty in the area.
Commenting on his visit, Craig said: “The Ridge is an outstanding community-based initiative which is committed to supporting residents of Dunbar who need of support.
“I want to pass on my thanks to Kate, Gill and the wider team of staff, volunteers and apprentices at the Ridge for all of the work they have been doing in improving the lives of people from the local community and restoring Dunbar’s heritage.
“The technical training offered by the Ridge to young people in stone masonry and joinery is sorely missing from the wider education system, and the project’s Support Team and Sunny Soups have been essential for many East Lothian residents.
“I would strongly encourage everyone to consider supporting the project and popping into their community garden sites, including the sites at the Backlands and Empire Close in Dunbar.”
Kate Darrah, founder and Managing Director of the Ridge, said: “The Ridge can offer a wide range of help, advice, volunteering and training opportunities to local people.
We aim to support people to overcome challenges to being able to enjoy life to the full. Sometimes that's just about the chance to connect with other people through volunteering, or it can be much more complex.
If we can't help directly, we have many strong partnership relationships with other organisations and can signpost quickly and effectively. We're all about doing whatever it takes to help people realise their potential in life”
You can find out more about the Ridge Project from: www.the-ridge.org.uk