Advent Day 20: Joy as new youth centre in Perthshire opens

A new youth centre aimed at bridging the gap between church and community has officially opened in Perthshire.

The Breathe Centre in Aberfeldy is described as a safe “home from home” where young people can come together to explore topics of Christianity together in fellowship and worship.

Local politicians, business owners, young people and their families and church members attended the opening of the centre at the Old Library on Crieff Road on November 30.

Breathe Aberfeldy Perthshire
The Breathe Centre in Aberfeldy is a safe, "home from home" where young people can explore faith and learn new skills.

Established in 2006, Breathe is part of Aberfeldy Parish Church which is led by Rev Neil Glover.

He said he is “delighted” that young people from different backgrounds now have a separate space that they can call their own.

Youth leaders and volunteers work with around 150 young people, aged 8-25, across Highland Perthshire who are encouraged to maximise their potential.

Dynamic youth work

Sam Wittmann, who leads the project, said: “This is an exciting next step for us as a project and as a church.

“This neutral space aims to bridge the gap between the church and community by being a safe and functional space to support one to one work, drop ins, and other events.

“The centre is an environment where young people feel comfortable and embrace a sense of ownership and belonging.

“We have a unique youth work and ministry model and this new space grew out of the young people’s own expressed wish for a home from home location.”

Mr Wittmann said the idea for the centre came directly from members of Breathe’s youth voice committee.

“Our centre models the structure of a traditional home by incorporating a dining space for eating together and a recreational space for developing hobbies and skills,” he added.

“The core of the lounge is a spacious seating area where young people can relax, talk or simply be.”

Breathe engages and supports many young people who have had adverse childhood experiences, involved in risk-taking behaviour and academically underachieving.

Aberfeldy youth
“We have a unique youth work and ministry model and this new space grew out of the young people’s own expressed wish for a home from home location.” Sam Wittmann

Written across the walls are affirmations which tell all who walk into the building that they are deeply loved, precious and full of purpose.

Mr Wittmann said: “Our hope is that the lounge will be a place young people can come to experience and enjoy these truths.

“We aim to have a wider impact too and on the days that we aren’t open for youth work, we are encouraging other community groups to use the space.

“We hope it will become a well-used and helpful resource to them as well and for the benefit of the whole community.”

You belong here

Mr Glover said: “The centre is the fruition of 15 years of consistent, high quality youth work, initially involving Franny McGrath and now Sam Wittmann and a team of staff and volunteers who do a brilliant job.

“I am delighted that young people now have a separate space that they feel belongs to them.”

Breathe has seen a significant number of young people from non-churched backgrounds attending youth services over the last year.

It enjoys the support of nearby churches and a new partnership between Aberfeldy, Dull and Weem, Pitlochry, Kenmore and Rannoch parishes has been formed.

Mr Wittmann said: “There are more partnerships on the horizon and we pray this will allow us to further expand our work and ministry and increase the quality of all we do.”