A COMMUNITY initiative offering training to volunteers has been described as “outstanding” by a visiting MSP.

The Ridge started 10 years ago as a community-run garden for residents and visitors to Dunbar to enjoy.

Since then, the group has taken control of a number of sites in the town, including one in the Backlands and one on Empire Close.

The two garden sites have been transformed from derelict and disused land behind the town’s High Street into green spaces for the whole community.

Craig Hoy, South Scotland MSP, was impressed with the work being carried out.

He said: “The Ridge is an outstanding community-based initiative which is committed to supporting residents of Dunbar who need support.

“I want to pass on my thanks to Kate Darrah, Gill Last and the wider team of staff, volunteers and apprentices at The Ridge for all of the work they have been doing in improving the lives of people from the local community and restoring Dunbar’s heritage.”

The Ridge provides SQA-approved training in stone masonry and joinery for young people from local schools, as well as apprenticeships for those out of education.

The project’s support team also offers help and advice for residents of the town, and volunteers from The Ridge make up ‘Sunny Soups’, which can be collected from the free food freezer in the Bleachingfield Centre – using food that would otherwise go to landfill to help combat food poverty in the area.

Mr Hoy, who also represents the Haddington and Lammermuir ward on East Lothian Council, added: “The technical training offered by The Ridge to young people in stone masonry and joinery is sorely missing from the wider education system, and the project’s support team and Sunny Soups have been essential for many East Lothian residents.”

Kate Darrah, founder and managing director of The Ridge, was keen to offer help to people in the area.

She said: “We aim to support people to overcome challenges to be able to enjoy life to the full.

“Sometimes that’s just about the chance to connect with other people through volunteering.

“If we can’t help directly, we have many strong partnership relationships with other organisations and can signpost quickly and effectively. We’re all about doing whatever it takes to help people realise their potential.”