Deputy First Minister reaffirms importance of “valuable contribution” of churches across Scotland

Deputy First Minister John Swinney  reaffirmed the lifeline services churches provide for children and young people the length and breadth of Scotland.

In a keynote speech at the Deep Impact conference in Aviemore the Deputy First Minister is expected to say that Deep Impact is a“great example of Christian service” and that the Scottish Government“appreciates the valuable contribution our Christian communities make to Scottish society, including supporting many of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities”.

Deep Impact was attended by 350 delegates and is Scotland’s National Christian Youth and Children’s Work conference organised by a coalition of youth agencies and the Evangelical Alliance. Delegates attend from all over Scotland, including Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles and the Borders,as well as Scotland’s towns and cities. Seventy two per cent of delegates are volunteers while 57 per cent work in the top 10 per cent areas of multiple deprivation. 

Speaking at the Deep Impact conference in Aviemore,Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, stated:

“Deep Impact is a wonderful celebration of best practice in the Christian youth and children’s work sector, and I look forward to opening the conference this weekend. It is a great opportunity to thank volunteers in person for the valuable work they do across a range of different projects throughout Scotland.

“The 350 delegates attending in Aviemore this weekend give of their own time to work with our children and young people in communities across Scotland, and I’m pleased to see projects represented from Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and the Borders, as well our larger towns and cities.

“Deep Impact is a great example of Christian service and of the promotion of interfaith dialogue, a goal the Scottish Government strongly shares and promotes as a way to strengthen and enhance connections across communities, lower barriers, eliminate fear and increase understanding.

“It is extremely welcome to see the partnership the conference has with Youth Link Scotland, the national agency for youth work. Constructive partnership between church-based community projects, the wider voluntary sector, and our statutory agencies is important as we seek to fulfil our shared vision of making Scotland the best country in the world for children and young people to grow up.

“The Scottish Government values our relationships with our Christian communities and appreciates the valuable contributions they make to Scottish society including supporting many of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.”

Ali Laing, Chair of the Deep Impact planning team, said:

“We are delighted to be returning to Aviemore for Deep Impact 2019, which will be a significant event for youth and children’s work in Scotland this year, and we are pleased to welcome the Deputy First Minister to our conference this year. Those who attend Deep Impact this weekend between them work with thousands of children and young people, investing more than 150,000 hours of youth and children’s work in communities across Scotland, usually at no cost to the taxpayer. At a time of scarce resources this is a great opportunity to provide top quality training and share good practice with Scotland’s hidden army of community heroes, for the benefit of young people across Scotland.

“We are also pleased to be able to make a significant contribution to the Highland economy during January – particularly this year with the challenges locally in the Aviemore area due to the closure of the funicular railway. As well as the conference itself, many of the youth workers and children’s workers who attend Deep Impact will bring repeat business to the Aviemore area by bringing groups of young people back throughout the year.

“Sometimes people are under the mistaken impression that the church has retreated from serving the local community over recent years. The numbers around Deep Impact show not only is that not the case but Christian youth and children’s workers make a significant impact in communities across Scotland.”

Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, local constituency MSP for Aviemore, said:

“I’m delighted to welcome delegates from across Scotland to Deep Impact, which is once again being held in my constituency. 

“These youth workers play a very influential role in young people’s lives and deserve both recognition and support for that. 

“I have spoken at Deep Impact in the past, to welcome all delegates, and it’s good that Deputy First Minister John Swinney will be doing that this year. 

“The majority of delegates are volunteers, many of whom are working with some of the most disadvantaged young people in Scotland. They are absolutely instrumental, and I’m sure that if they did not serve people as they did then we would notice a massive gaping hole.”

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