A YOUTH led social enterprise working for the benefit of the Hillfoots and beyond was officially launched at Alva Academy.

Teachers, local businesses, parents and more joined the young people involved in the Ochil Youths Community Improvement (OYCI) group on Wednesday, April 25.

They gathered to hear about the unique project set-up in the Wee County, which empowers youngsters to develop their own ideas and put them into practice.

The seed for OYCI was planted in 2016, when 26 individuals aged 11-18-years-old became involved in a consultation that aimed to understand the aspirations of young people in the Hillfoots area.

Many suggestions were born out of this and, when faced with the question of who would take them forward, the decision was taken to establish a community interest company (CIC).

Since it was set-up mid-2017, they have been hard at work putting their innovations into play.

Shona Ulrichsen, OYCI team leader, has been supporting the youngsters to help them bring about change.

She said: “It has been an absolute privilege to work with this amazing group of young people over the past few years, we are really excited to see some of their ideas now taking shape in the community."

The focus of OYCI, aided by Foundation Scotland and the EDF Burnfoot Hill Community Fund, has been wide-ranging so far.

Volunteers joined forces with the Alva Community Council for a clean-up event earlier this year.

P7 pupils at Alva Primary School were particularly keen to tackle litter, dog poo and plastic and made dog poo bag holders by recycling plastic bottles collected.

A number of projects are on the go and the young people are setting-up a youth club for S1-S3 pupils in the Ben Cleuch Centre in Tillicoultry, along with looking at local drama provision.

Scott McEwan, headteacher at Alva Academy, has applauded the inroads OYCI has made.

He said: "The work of our young people through the OYCI programme is inspiring.

“Our young leaders have developed an awareness of the needs of their local community and have the drive, energy and imagination to have a really positive sustained impact."

OYCI also plans to link up with Active Stirling to facilitate swimming sessions at The Peak and would like to be able to generate income through the collection and selling of ink cartridges.

Shona said: “We are keen to hear from local businesses and other organisations who might be interested in our printer ink cartridge recycling service – contact us at info@oyci.org.uk”

For more details, visit oyci.org.uk