January Jam at Bixter Hall
Alcohol-free event a hit for young organisers
written by Rosalind Griffiths
Bixter Hall was chosen as the venue for an alcohol-free music event called January Jam on Friday, which was organised by young people for young people and which proved you don't have to drink to have fun.
The evening featured popular young bands on the Shetland music scene at the moment, and was attended by young people who were bussed in from as far afield as the North Isles and South Mainland.
The event was hosted by the Youth Hall Committee, a group of young people recruited by graduate placement worker Lauren Peterson. She said: "The creation of this committee came from the project which I am currently undertaking in community work and is supported by the Shetland Halls Association. The need to get young people more involved in working with their local halls was identified by the community work team as being vital to maintain activity of all 52 local halls throughout the islands.
"In order to tackle this we decided to create junior hall committees as opposed to expecting young people to join already formed hall committees which may be quite a daunting experience. To set up their own committees which they could take ownership of, collectively make decisions in and work alongside the existing hall committees seemed to be a logical way to approach this project."
As part of the recruiting process for these committees, Miss Peterson went along to Youth Voice meetings, pupil council meetings and set up lunch-time meetings in the Anderson High School.
The AHS-based committee, which organised last weekend's event (another committee based at Brae High School is now being formed) was made up of "extremely enthusiastic" young people aged from 15-22 and living throughout Shetland.
After almost weekly meetings it was deemed that a music event would appeal most to young people in Shetland. The idea grew to include variety performances to provide the night with a bit more entertainment, and it was decided acts from Notions Circus, an improvisation group known as The Impostors and a dance group, which recently performed a Flash Mob, would be included. Many of the committee members were in some of the groups and this increased their motivation in planning the event. Other bands which performed included The Metacarpals, Comet Conspiracy and Casino Feet. All the organisation was left to the committee members, who were given sole responsibility to approach all the acts and confirm the gig date with them.
Bixter Hall was chosen thanks to its committee's expressed desire to hold events for young people. Seven hall committee members, who worked alongside the junior hall committee, youth workers and other volunteers present on the night, played a vital role in ensuring Friday night was a success.
Funding was secured with the help of environmental health chief Maggie Dunne, and £1,050 from the Community Safety Partnership Small Awards Programme 2011/12 covered all expenses including hire of the hall, advertising and catering. Free soft drinks, burgers and hot-dogs were provided at the event and a Facebook page set up by the committee helped to create interest in it.
Miss Peterson said: "Huge gratitude must be paid to Youth Work Services, in particular Lesley Gray and Wendy Lowe whose enthusiasm and encouragement was invaluable. Youth Services arranged transport to and from the event using their budget. This was absolutely vital in bringing in the young people from areas all over Shetland. The young promoters must also be recognised for their help and support.
"I think the success of the event surprised us all as it was attended by around 140 people of all ages from all over Shetland.
"On the night the smooth running of the event must be accredited to the Youth Hall Committee themselves who each took on separate roles to ensure that everything ran like clockwork.
"I feel this has shown that giving young people in Shetland the ownership and responsibility for events such as this is absolutely key to their success. To give them the opportunity to hold events which they want in a way which they want seemed to give them a huge boost of motivation and enthusiasm to make the event the success it was."
This young group is keen to stay together, and interest was expressed by other young people on the night to join the Youth Hall Committee.
Miss Peterson now plans to appoint mentors from different hall committees who have expressed an interest in working alongside the Youth Hall Committee to ensure its continuation. Halls throughout Shetland are likely to benefit from this group's input.
Improvisation group "The Impostors"