Flags, speeches and a hubbub of activity at Stornoway Town Hall today (Friday 21 February) marked the opening of the new Who Cares? Scotland hub and office, named Ar Cridhe in Gaelic which translates to Our Heart.
Young islanders joined politicians and officials to open the doors on a new home for island youth, with a promise of activities that they choose and which help them to realise their potential.
As part of that process, the colours and décor of the new space were chosen by young people themselves, and a flag was raised immediately across the road from the hub on South Beach, designed by young people and featuring flowers to represent blossoming potential, heart-shape petals for love, footsteps to represent the care journey and a green sky and blue grass for their world sometimes being turned upside down.
The Western Isles National Care Day has been organised by Alison Frizzell, Advocacy and Participation Worker for Who Cares? and Rachel Macdonald, Care Experienced Support Worker for Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. The opening was scheduled for today as it is Care Day across Scotland. Organised by Who Cares? Scotland, Care Day raises awareness and understanding of care, and celebrates the talents of care-experienced young people and their friends.
Alasdair Allan, MSP, and Comhairle Chief Executive, Malcolm Burr gave welcome speeches to celebrate this new centre.
Alasdair Allan said: "Scotland has promised to young people that it is a place they can grow up loved, cared for and respected, but young carers don't necessarily get that, which is why this new hub is so important."
Tom Boyd of Who Cares? Scotland said the hub, supported by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, reflects the importance of creating spaces that young people feel they can shape. It is planned as a place where they can develop skills and confidence and build a sense of belonging and ownership.
It gives a home base for groups such as Young Islanders - secondary-age care-experienced young islanders. Also using the hub will be the Kickin’ Club, and the Transitions Group, which supports young people in the summer break between primary into secondary school.
Raising the flag, designed by young people who will use the new Who Cares? hub and office in the Town Hall on South Beach.