Liam helps Big Noise Torry mark 15 years of Sistema Scotland but “very difficult” funding situation remains

Liam Kerr and Lorna Carruthers

NORTH East MSP Liam Kerr toured the Big Noise Torry centre in Victoria Road as part of the charity’s 15th anniversary celebrations.

Big Noise is a social change programme that works intensively with children, young people and families in targeted communities – Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Torry and Douglas in Dundee.

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It now work with around 3,500 children and young people — more than 700 in Aberdeen and more than 500 in Dundee.

But Aberdeen City Council, Dundee City Council and Stirling Council withdrew their funding for the centres in those areas for 2023/24. 

The Scottish Government provided an additional £1.5 million to help cover this gap, on top of the £1.1 million that was expected. The charity is seeking discussions on a multi-year funding settlement for Sistema Scotland. 

Meeting Torry centre head Lorna Carruthers, Mr Kerr said:

“The Sistema projects provide vital support and life experience for hundreds of children every year, who would otherwise have very little access to creative, social pursuits. 

“Music is very important to me and it’s been great to see young people from Torry perform in the community and at a recent event at the Scottish Parliament. 

“It is crucial that Big Noise receives a fair and adequate allocation of Scottish Government and local authority resources in the coming years.

“The decision by Aberdeen and Dundee city councils to cut funding last year made it very difficult for Torry and Douglas Sistema to continue. 

“It was only because of a last minute intervention from the former First Minister — pressed by members of the Scottish Parliament as well as these communities — that funding stayed in place for this year. 

“I am glad to have met Big Noise representatives once again to discuss the future, which is still uncertain, and will continue to press the SNP government and the city councils involved to guarantee Big Noise will remain just as loud in both Aberdeen and Dundee for years to come.”

Lorna Carruthers, head of centre at Big Noise Torry, said:

“It was fantastic to welcome Liam to Big Noise Torry to give him a greater understanding of the transformational work we do.

“He heard more about the positive impact our programmes are having here in Aberdeen and in communities around Scotland.

“We were particularly pleased that he was able to hear directly from children and young people about the difference Big Noise has had, and continues to have, on their lives.

“Big Noise helps children and young people reach their full potential by equipping them with vital life skills and enhancing their academic skills.

“Through nurturing and supportive relationships, the programme increases confidence, self-esteem and resilience, and boosts participants’ creativity, aspiration and sense of belonging while also building community ties.”

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