Dreams of the Future
Youth Vision Project
If you have ever wondered what was going on at the little cottage beside Threipmuir, here is your
Three years ago I retired after a 30 year career teaching at the Edinburgh Steiner School. One of the
strongest feelings I was left with was that whenever I got the kids away from school, out in the open air,
something shifted: my relationship with them, their relationship with each other, their attitude to life, all
took a turn for the better, became more wholesome; and the longer we were away from the classroom
the better it was.
So, when I finally stepped back from the chalk-face I decided to get in touch with Youth Vision, a charity
based in the Pentlands, not two miles from where I live in Currie, that I had often seen when out for a
walk, but didn’t know much about. Sara, the manager, invited to me to come up for a day and see what
goes on. Since then I have been up most Thursdays in term-time helping out with the Back on Track
group of 14/15 year-olds who aren’t managing with school; some have difficult home backgrounds or
other challenges to face.
Whatever the reason, school is just not doing it for them right now.
The first thing we do when we arrive is light a fire, for, as there is no electricity or gas at the re-roofed
but draughty 18
century farmhouse, wood fires are the only source of energy. So, fire-making is the
first and most essential skill to be learned.
Gardening, cooking, safe tool use, joinery, willow weaving, dry stane dyking all follow in due time.
There is a compost toilet and a hand pump that sucks water from 30 metres below ground. One day it
will be filtered and made safe to drink. But until then water has to be carried in, along with everything
The farmhouse is a mile from the nearest access road so every day inevitably begins and ends with a
walk, whatever the weather.
It’s a beautiful place to spend some time and it seems to attract the kind of people I like: practical,
down-to-earth individuals who genuinely care for nature and each other. It’s mostly run by volunteers,
including a good number who started out as vulnerable youngsters in need of the kind of care Youth
Vision offered and have now grown in confidence to such an extent that they are now part of the team.
“Without Youth Vision,” one of them told me recently, “I don’t know where I’d be now.”
So as the world becomes more and more digital and young people grow up cut off from nature and
each other, Youth Vision offers something more real - a lifeline to reality and survival where self-
confidence can be nurtured and grow in a caring community.
I firmly believe that the only viable future for all of us is one that works with nature, not against it, and
my day at Youth Vision is my weekly reminder of what’s important.
Thank you for this contribution Philip.
It is great to have a reminder of what nurtures us, relating to nature, working with it, not against it.