WHEN Johnstone man Andy Blair met Carolyn MacLean through a coaching session nine years ago, little did they know it would lead to a happy life together.

As Renfrewshire’s diversionary sports programme Street Stuff marks its 10th anniversary, Andy and Carolyn have joined in to celebrate the scheme that brought them together.

The pair met when they were put together to run a programme at Castlehead High School, in Paisley, and a relationship soon blossomed. 

Carolyn said: “Andy became involved in the programme a little while after I did and we didn’t always work at the same venue as each other but we both got to know each other really well and built up great relationships with the young people, especially when we became a couple.

“Nine years later and we’re still together, married with our own family.

“Street Stuff really changed our lives.”
Andy, who joined the programme after spending time coaching ‘soccer’ in America, added:

“I was keen to get back involved at St Mirren, where I’d previously coached prior to moving, and when I heard about the programme and the variety of partners that were already committing to funding, I was extremely keen to get involved.”

Providing activities such as football, dance and gaming six days a week, the Street Stuff team aims to offer young people, often in disadvantaged areas, the opportunity to access exercise classes and social activities.

More than 200,000 young people have taken part in the programme since its inception, while the work of coaches and volunteers has helped reduce youth disorder and anti-social behaviour by an incredible 65 per cent since 2009.

Andy, who is now a police officer, said: “One of the target areas we first attended was where I grew up and it was eye-opening to realise the challenges on my own doorstep. 

“Working in the programme allowed me to develop as an individual and gave me the life experience I needed to become a police officer.”

Carolyn added: “The programme has evolved massively.

“I have seen participants go from being young children with low self-esteem to actually delivering the programme itself – and that’s extremely rewarding.”

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