A SOCIAL enterprise has been launched in Peebles by a local youth group after securing funding worth nearly £200,000.

The money will help Tweeddale Youth Action transform its successful Food Punks and Bike Punks projects, into an income generating social enterprise that will help fund its youth club.

Originally the two projects had been established as part of the group's service provision to help local youngsters gain confidence and skills and become more environmentally aware.

When the original funding from the Climate Challenge Fund ran out last March, TYA’s Locality Manager, Dave Hodson, realised both projects had the potential to be developed into a social enterprise that would not only continue to support local youths but generate an income to safeguard the future of youth services.

Now, thanks to help from Business Gateway Scottish Borders, TYA has secured £110,000 from Scottish Borders LEADER that will be used over the next 20 months.

The funding, alongside a £45,000 grant from the Robertson Trust, will allow catering project, Food Punks, to take on a head chef and establish an outside catering arm, hire a commercial kitchen, and pay for a catering van and trailer that will allow them to attend larger events.

The remaining LEADER funds, alongside TYA reserves and a £10,000 commission from South East of Scotland Transport Partnership (SEStran), will establish Bike Punks as a bicycle upcycle enterprise, creating artwork and smaller bike centric art to sell.

Mr Hodson said: “We are extremely thankful to LEADER, the Robertson Trust and SEStran for their support and their belief in what we are trying to achieve.

"Both Bike Punks and Food Punks could not be transformed and developed into long-term sustainable enterprises if we didn’t secure this funding.

"Now, with a funding package in place, we have an opportunity to develop both projects’ business potential that will help generate an income to decrease our dependency on grant funding for our youth club.

“Applying for LEADER funding is a huge undertaking, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of Annie Watt from Business Gateway.

"Her support and advice regarding cashflow, budgeting, and potential match funders was invaluable. She went above and beyond to help me finalise the application before the deadline.”

When the Food Punks project began in 2015, the initial aim was to teach youngsters about lower carbon lifestyles, including cooking using local seasonal produce and highlighting ways to reduce food waste.

Word spread about what the project was doing and older members of Food Punks were invited to small community events to provide BBQs and catering, giving them responsibility and an opportunity to show commitment, team work and gain catering skills.

At the same time Bike Punks established a bike repair workshop to teach young people how to look after their bikes to reduce their reliance on lifts from their parents and help decrease the number of bikes going to landfill.

Local artist, sculpture and welder, Aegir MacIver, came on board in 2017 to help youngsters involved in the project create art out of unwanted bike parts, teaching them metal work and welding.

Annie Watt from Business Gateway is delighted to have helped the project take its next step.

She said: “Dave turned to us for help with specific elements of the funding application that were fundamental to the success of TYA’s bid to LEADER.

"We are delighted that our expert knowledge went part of the way to ensure the organisation secured funding for this enterprise, which will play a vital role in helping TYA continue to support local youngsters.”

Now, thanks to the recent commission from SEStrans, Bike Punks is set to produce its first commercial order for five cycle route signs that will be made from unwanted bicycle parts.

The signs will be used to highlight local bike routes, with the first sign delivered in October.

David added: “Both projects will be commercial undertakings that teach youngsters skills they otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to learn.

"By generating an income they will help us provide services and activities for young people across Tweeddale through our work in Peebles High School and through our youth clubs in Peebles and Innerleithen.

"These clubs give young people a safe alternative to bus stops and street corners and we offer a wraparound service that includes advocacy, advice and signposting on a wide range of relevant issues.”