Solomon 4

Living the Leith motto

How community partnerships can enhance lives

Solomon is a 17-year-old boy who lives in Leith, Edinburgh - an area well known for its regeneration. It is an area where economical trade once boomed thanks to the Leith Docks. Later, failed local plans and recession in the area led to a fall in trade, with the local motto ‘Persevere’ embroidered on the side of nearby streets as a reminder of the tough times its local people faced.

A modern-day Leith still has its challenges in its new blossoming state. Earlier this year it was announced Leith is the fastest growing ward in Scotland for poverty – with some of the most densely populated areas in the UK with high deprivation.

Settling into a new country can be a daunting prospect. Now put yourself in Solomon’s shoes after he and his family arrived in Leith from Nigeria in 2022.

Fast forward two years, after a bit of perseverance, Solomon is now a confident young man. Thanks to the Leith community who helped settle and set him on a journey to become a local role model. He has now become a leader in a project which aims to positively influence young people during the weekends and as a result, Solomon has recently been employed by a local charity. Solomon is very aware how the partners of Leith Community Sports Hub have enhanced his life in his new home.

Solomon said: 

“Without these people, I would not be where I am now – I am confident that my life would be worse of. They have given me so much.”

Becoming a Local Leader

Leith Community Sports Hub was established in late 2022 with the aim of supporting local challenges and enhancing community provision with physical activity. It is part of the national sportscotland community sport hub network that brings sports clubs and community organisations together to improve the contribution sport and physical activity has within communities across Scotland.

The steering group for the Friday Night Lights project (aiming to reduce anti-social behaviour amongst young people) consists of a range of stakeholders, including youth work groups and local sport groups.

Solomon, who at the time was short in confidence but super eager when it comes to sport, was identified through the local Community Police Officer. The Police Officer was confident this was a project that could be the making of Solomon.

They said: “Seeing how the project and the partners involved have come together to support Solomon makes me very emotional. It’s a great story of community togetherness.”

Solomon’s natural ability and passion for basketball was evident. When asked what his future aspirations were when he was older, a sure response followed, ‘either an engineer or a basketball coach’.

Soon after, Solomon attended the launch of our Friday Night Lights project as a volunteer. His ability to positively connect with younger people was evident. They were in awe of his athletic ability and his energising personality. Every Friday night, week after week, Solomon showed up and volunteered his time. He was slowly developing the skills of a local role model other young people could connect with.

The Friday Night Lights project uses various community locations around Leith. A local stabbing at the ‘Foot of the Walk’ in Leith in 2023 led to a series of localised crime incidents. Solomon showed apprehension traveling a short distance to new community locations because of these incidents but the workers at the project were able to ensure he grew in confidence in various new community environments. Dedicating his time as a volunteer, exploring new local spaces, and turning into a local role model was just the beginning for him.

People Development

While Solomon was getting to grips with the Friday Night Lights project, he was also interested in developing himself. After volunteering and getting to know the ambition of the project, he asked Leith Community Sport Hub to help him.

In the summer of 2023, Solomon dedicated his summer holidays to obtaining entry level coaching qualifications in basketball, football, athletics, and badminton. This increased his confidence again and sought out his Active Schools Coordinator, with the aim of helping the local school basketball team. Solomon was an ever present student in the PE department influencing the staff to make the basketball programme better. 

He also became a leader at the Friday Night Lights project, positively influencing other young people around him through the communication skills he’s developed. His energy was being channelled into something positive which he feels wouldn’t have been the case without Leith Community Sports Hub.

Solomon said:

"Without meeting these people and the opportunities they have given me, I have no hesitation that I would have joined a local gang, not doing the positive things I am able to do now."

Around the same time, Leith Community Sport Hub and YMCA Edinburgh were successful with a funding bid to employ a local young person to help deliver a youth work led basketball initiative after school hours. Given the experience he gained, Solomon was a perfect fit for the role and started work at the project in late 2023 – his first employment opportunity.

To get to his new employment, Hibernian Community Foundation (a core partner of Leith Community Sport Hub), donated a bike to Solomon and a local youth worker helped him get his free bus pass. The new opportunities to travel and explore the city gave Leith Community Sport Hub the chance to connect Solomon with a local basketball club to play competitively every week. 

Through support and ambition Solomon has been able to navigate the obstacles and grab with both hands the opportunities life has thrown him. He is now closer to his goal of one day being a basketball coach!

Find out more

Share links

Related Articles

Skilz Arbroath 5

All the Skilz

Local charity helps to keep everyone in Arbroath active through a range of activities

Read More
Leith Friday Night 3

Friday night lights

Communities in Leith are being made safer thanks to a new evening intervention project aimed at young people.

Read More
Horse riding in Shetland

Everybody needs good neighbours

A remote horse-riding club is helping to unite an island community

Read More