A GROUP of disadvantaged young people recently spent time volunteering at the Wee County's popular Japanese Garden.

Organised by the Venture Trust charity, many of the youngsters rolled up their sleeves and helped to plant cherry trees in the historic garden in Dollar that will be enjoyed by the community and visitors to the area for years to come.

Head gardener Kate White explained the work experience was part of an international planting partnership between the UK and Japan.

She said: "The young people from Venture Trust planted the final block of cherry trees for this spring's planting as part of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project.

"The initiative aims to plant more than 1,000 trees in the UK by 2020 in an effort to celebrate the Japan-UK Season of Culture which runs from 2019-20."

It is hoped the trees would create a beautiful spring spectacle as part of an annual cherry blossom festival.

The group, mostly from Glasgow and surrounding areas, were taking part in an innovative employability programme – CashBack Change Cycle – offered by Venture Trust.

The programme is funded by the Scottish Government's Cashback for Communities, which takes money recovered from the proceeds of crime.

From there, the funding is put towards delivering activities and opportunities for young people disadvantaged by living in areas of deprivation, being unemployed, not in education or training, or being at risk of being involved in antisocial behaviour and offending or re-offending.

Elements included in the programme are employability sessions, bike construction and maintenance including workshop experience and a short residential that has work-related tasks and biking.

Participants learn about responsibility and getting up to be at a job Monday to Friday.

They get to keep the bike they have built and use it for job hunting, accessing services, training, getting to work, and leisure.

Venture Trust employability officer Chelsea Hill said there was a sense of great pride from the young people after completing their work.

She added: "The tree planting and other gardening work left the young people feeling like they had contributed something of long-lasting benefit to the community.

"Realising their efforts would be an integral part of the garden as part of a cherry blossom festival and enjoyed by visitors for nearly 100 years was very special."