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Elgin Youth Development Group – imaginative food and health activities

Elgin Youth Development Group was established in 1998, with the vision of providing a safe social space for young people in the Elgin area.

To support the work they do, they offer room and catering hire through their social enterprise, The Inkwell which allows them to offer work experience opportunities for young people throughout Moray.


Two girls cooking togetherThe Elgin Youth Development Group is an Elgin-based youth charity established in 1998 with the goal of helping young people realise their full potential. We provide a café space known as ‘The Warehouse@EYC’ that is at the heart of the various programmes and projects provided to young people. These include a range of youth work related services and activities including open evenings, after school clubs, holiday clubs, cooking and fitness classes.

The underlying ethos of the café is “Run by young people, for young people”. To that end, they actively listen to their members and it is their energy, imagination and ambition that drives the project in delivering activities/programmes that match their needs.

Their building is also home to their social enterprise, The Inkwell, which offers room hire alongside catering services and a purpose built community kitchen to groups of all sizes. The purpose of this space is to provide training and employment opportunities for young people facing barriers to employment while generating income to support the activities run through The Warehouse@EYC.

All these activities combine to create a thriving, active community space that is usually open from first thing in the morning until late in the evening. There is activity in the building seven days per week, including several groups using the building over the weekend. It is with this combination that they create a unique opportunity for the community to come together, share experiences, learn new skills, build confidence and celebrate a love of food.

How it works

The building is open all year round except for two weeks at Christmas and New Year.

After-school clubs

During term time, the café’s offering has included an array of activities. These activities include a series of healthy living activities and drop-ins which include a mid-week drop-in named Eat, Chat and Chill which was introduced to tackle food poverty. As a part of this session, the team provide a free 2-course meal, prepared and served by their employability trainees, to an average of 20 young people per week. All sessions are supported by the full youth work team, giving them the opportunity to share a meal, build relationships and work with young people in an informal and supportive environment.

Healthy living programme

EYDG aim to raise awareness of positive health choices through cookery, health and fitness classes. Each week they see the impact that these sessions have on young people and year on year they have seen the demand for these classes grow and grow with many young people joining the membership from these sessions.

Throughout the year they challenge young people to take part in various fitness and cooking events including the biennial Rotary Swimarathon and a MasterChef challenge. They also partner with other charities and community groups including Living Golf and OutfitMoray to be a more active presence for young people even if they are not members of the café ensuring that they provide support and promote healthy living to as many young people as possible.

Group of young people cooking in a community kitchen

Social enterprise activity

Over the past three years, EYDG have estimated that over 2000 people have benefited from cooking sessions held either in their Community Kitchen or at other locations with around 120 cooking sessions being delivered in 2018/2019 allowing beneficiaries to develop their skills and cultivate relationships.

These sessions have included individual sessions where families or individuals were given the opportunity to make a couple of recipes then take home what they had made.

They also developed a 4-week course giving partipcants the knowledge and skills to create nutritious complete meals. This has included working in partnership with local midwives, developing a course for pregnant women with BMIs of over 30 which delivered both theoretical and practical knowledge of healthy eating, together with a light exercise plan. This course has gone from strength to strength and has won national recognition, with other areas wishing to replicate the model.


EYDG and the Youth Café are mainly grant funded however they also generate income to support their charitable work through the Inkwell.


In recognition of their work in the community The Warehouse@EYC was awarded YouthLink Scotland’s Community Based Youth Work Project of the Year 2019. Over the years their membership has helped elevate the project to new heights and have received local merit for their impact including obtaining Moray Young Citizen of the Year award in 2019

Future plans

The team are always innovating and coming up with new project ideas, some of which are already in the pipeline to be launched. This includes a VR project which aims to make a positive social impact on young people and the broader community by providing virtual experiences. They are also looking forward to continuing the impact provided by our employability project and extending our offering within the project to more young people including those within our membership.


Young people in cooking classes:

“I really enjoyed this session and love the rock buns. Looking forward to next week.”

“I really enjoyed the cooking thank you for having me.”

“Thank you for another amazing cooking session and great to see everyone again. Really nice to see other members of the cooking community willing to help us out.”

Catering services customer:

“Great soup, sandwiches and breakfast catering have been provided at meetings I have been at and I just wish we had more meetings at breakfast or lunchtime. First class!”

Published: September 7, 2020