Is it our young people or our politicians that suffer from lack of aspiration?

Dr Lisa Whittaker

Dr Lisa Whittaker

Dr Lisa Whittaker, Community Engagement Manager, Columba 1400

YouthLink Scotland will shortly launch the National Youth Work Strategy (2014-2019). One ambition of the strategy is making Scotland the best place for young people to grow up. In the draft strategy this is described as working collaboratively to inspire young people and to ensure that Scotland continues to be at the forefront globally of innovative work with young people. The outcomes focus on listening to young people, respecting and valuing them and encouraging them to make positive choices. However, this does not seem to account for socio-economic factors which impact on young people’s lives.

Choices require opportunities. We currently have record levels of graduate unemployment and underemployment i.e. people working in jobs for which they are substantially overqualified. This shows that simply encouraging young people to make positive choices rather misses the point in the current economic context. I wonder how youth workers can best support young people to deal with the precarious labour market and other challenges while, often, also experiencing similar situations themselves.

Some young people are often criticised for having no or low aspirations. In 2013 David Cameron was reported to have said “young people from working class families do not get ahead in life partly because they have low aspirations” (Telegraph, 13 Nov 2013). However, research has found the opposite to be true, aspirations are high and are no different than in previous generations. I am part of a team working on the (Re)Imagining Youth project (A comparative study of youth leisure in Scotland & Hong Kong). Building on landmark sociological research from the 1960s (Jephcott 1967), the study will analyse youth leisure in Scotland and Hong Kong. In the 1960s Jephcott found that young people’s aspirations did not differ much from those of their parents “they spoke in terms of marriage, a set number of children, a nice home and a secure job”. During my PhD research (exploring young people’s identities and experiences of unemployment) I asked a group of young, working-class, Scottish women aged 16-18 where they would like to be in 5 years’ time. Jenni replied that she would like to be “pregnant, with a good job and maybe putting a mortgage on a house”. Jenni’s reply was typical of many of the young people I spoke to, who all described aspirations of work, family and stability (see also CelebYouth.org for many more examples).

The issue is whether or not young people like Jenni have the opportunities to realise their aspirations. It is often easier to blame individuals for low aspirations than address the structural problems of inequality, poverty and a lack of jobs.

In my previous role at The Prince’s Trust I met young people who were interested in starting their own business. However, instead of having a burning desire to be their own boss, the reality for many of these young people was that self-employment was a last resort in their long struggle to find a job. Many of the young people I met talked about the need to create their own jobs and wanted to give jobs to other young people once their own business was established. It seems there has been a recent revival of the idea that young people need to do it for themselves and self-employment is the solution to youth unemployment. This is not a new ‘solution’ in a recent blog Prof. MacDonald reflects on research he conducted in the 1980s – with young people urged to ‘raise their aspirations’, take ‘responsibility’ and grasp the challenge of ‘enterprise’; all in a political context of high youth unemployment and drastic ‘reforms’ to welfare entitlements.

Young people are being hammered by austerity in Britain. Today, 18.6% of the 18-24 cohort are now unemployed, rising to 35.5% among 16- to 17-year-olds, but we also have many more not counted in these figures who are underemployed. We have seen a sharp rise in zero-hour contracts. For many young people having a job does not mean stability, security and a regular ‘living-wage’ in fact, quite the opposite. However being ‘in work’ is still the favoured position and it is expected that youth workers will support young people to find and sustain employment. However, this doesn’t just apply to young people, youth workers often face the same situation, with cuts to funding and sessional, short-term contracts. It was reported last year that survival of the youth work sector “has meant cutting jobs, reducing opening hours, charging fees, not buying new equipment, fewer trips or merging with other organisations” (The Guardian, 30 April 2013). Perhaps one of the aspirations for NYWS should be for the youth work sector to rediscover its campaigning zeal and, work with young people, to campaign for ‘positive opportunities’ not just choices?

Dr Lisa Whittaker

@LisaWhittaker02

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Is journalism failing to represent young people?

podium 1Camilla Byk of Podium.me

I have some questions for you: When did you last hear a teenager interviewed on the radio or TV?  Were they a celebrity, or were they telling a shocking story?  Were they interviewed by a presenter who ‘talked down’ to them? Were they given enough time to talk beyond the subject on the media channel’s agenda?

I don’t know about you, but these scenarios above have been my experience of hearing teen views on the mainstream media.  My response to this was to create a totally new way of broadcasting the stories of the under 20s and this is how Podium.me was born.

We have a growing team of 130 + journalists across the UK in towns, villages and islands who can use their smartphones or dictaphones to record the views of people around them.  The journalists suggest ideas and these are scheduled into daily podcasts that anyone in the team can contribute to.

This is a great way for young people to learn how to think widely beyond their own experiences, talk to people they don’t know, and grow in confidence.  We work with 43 universities, many organisations like Brook, the Guides, and Princes Trust, to give anyone who is interested the opportunity to hear their views on air.

As well as our own daily podcast on www.podium.me we also contribute to BBC programmes on radio 1 and radio 4, and are working with the Thomson Reuters foundation on stories.

One journalist  who has just completed a 10 day internship with us in Cardiff said:

“I really loved being involved with Podium.me by knowing my work is a part of all the amazing podcasts featured on the website by fellow journalists and those at Podium HQ – podcasts which some days can make me laugh, some days can make me so emotional, and some days can really make me think about a topic and question current debates.”

“I honestly really admire how Podium.me looks to discuss with young people such a wide range of topics and give young people a voice within the media, which most of the time used to just speak on their behalf or paint them in a negative light. The station doesn’t shy away from important debates facing the whole country or world at that moment in time, which I find really inspiring as it doesn’t dumb down young people by giving the impression that they wouldn’t have enough knowledge to give a valued and worthwhile opinion on whatever is being discussed.”

podium 2If you work with young people and you would like to get them out recording, then encourage them to click podium.me ‘get started’ and within a week they can hear their views included in a podcast.  This is such a powerful, yet safe, anonymous way to help young people to represent themselves on a national platform.  We look forward to hearing from you.

What is Podium?

Podium.me is a platform for your story. Every day we broadcast interviews, songs and stories from the under 20s.

If you have a story to tell or a song or sport to promote or share please email The Pod

Who can join the team?

Anyone of any age can join the journalism team.  You can be at school, college, university, working, or in need of work experience. Podium.me is great on any CV and our links with national broadcasters ensure that your work is heard by editors and journalists at a high level.

Want to be a Podium Journalist?

If you are honest and kind, ready to meet new people, interested in unusual facts, and want to be connected across the UK to like minded people then please email a couple of sentences about yourself to The Pod

For more information, press enquiries, and offers of support please contact Annabel

 

 

This week it’s all about women

It seems apt this week as we prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day tomorrow, Saturday 8 March,  that we look at some of the work that is being done in Scotland to empower young girls and women. This week’s blog is from a project set up in Glasgow which works to improve women’s sense of their own self-worth. MsMissMrs 2

The path to Female Empowerment

Sylvia Douglas, Project Manager, MsMissMrs CIC

MsMissMrs is a community interest company, serving the communities of Glasgow through the promotion of self-care and self-worth for girls and women. Demonstrating positive living tools and decision-making, we enable women & girls to find their own paths and inspire future generations to lead empowered lives. Emotional awareness is a route to true Empowerment.

Living with low self-esteem and poor self-care is a reality for many women and girls. Self-destructive attitudes can quickly be handed down from generation to generation, damaging relationships and lowering aspiration.

Our experiential workshops are provided in regular sessions or as an intensive block, all workshops are led by a skilled facilitator, allowing varied and open discussion in a safe, supportive environment.MsMissMrs 1

At the moment it is week 5 of a community workshop I have been running for teen mums. The conversation today is very different from our first week together. This week we have covered self-care in relation to the body, mind, emotions and relationships. We have explored setting boundaries and identifying needs, laughed lots and drank tea till I ran out of tea bags, twice! Today is our final day together and I am watching self-love plans being filled in with complete confidence. It is amazing to watch and it is the very reason I set MsMissMrs up late last year. I wanted to create a space for women and girls to begin a journey that explores self-care and self-love as a pathway to empowerment.  Living with low self-esteem and poor self-care is a reality for many women and girls, neglecting yourself can be handed down from generation to generation, damaging relationships and lowering aspiration.

This was very much my experience, I remember being 15 and having a conversation about self-love with my social worker, she was a real switched on lady who I thought had gotten the self-love thing wrong, see I thought if I were not loved and accepted by others I was therefore not worthy of self-love .

By the time I was in my early 20s I was already in unhealthy relationships and a chronic people pleaser who knew very little about taking care of her own needs. This self-neglect resulted in feelings of unworthiness and missed opportunities. And this then resulted in me taking comfort in alcohol, food and telly to escape the low feelings of powerlessness in my life.  My journey like the young mums in the group today will be ongoing, as worry of financial insecurity comes, relationships start and end and new opportunities come and go,  we need to remind ourselves to  practise setting boundaries, be kind and love ourselves under all conditions even when the negative self-talk begins. Today I feel truly blessed, I feel loved and I can give love, without compromising self-love.

Be Empowering, Be you and start conversations with friends about self-care and self-love!!!

MsMissMrs logohttp://msmissmrs.vpweb.co.uk/

National Youth Worker of the Year 2014 – Meet the finalists – Part four

One week to go until the National Youth Worker of the Year Awards 2014, here are the last of our inspirational finalists in the categories of Agencies and Partner Organisations Worker of the Year  AND ALSO Youth Work Manager of the Year

AGENCIES AND PARTNER ORGANISATIONS WORKER OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by Scottish Community Safety Network

Mark McCabe

Mark McCabe

Mark McCabe, Access to Industry – Edinburgh

Mark has been a Passport Caseworker with Access to Industry since 2010 where he supports young offenders at HMYOI Polmont to make the transition back into Edinburgh communities. Mark has made a difference every time he has helped a young person secure a job or a college place or even attain their first ever qualification. In the last three years he has become a trusted and authoritative figure in the Polmont community, amongst colleagues, clients and partner agencies alike. His most notable achievement this year was delivering the first ‘Career Fair’ which gave employment, training and educational providers the chance to see the calibre of the young men and it also gave those young people hope that opportunities do exist.

Michelle Doherty, Youth Enterprise Zone – Glasgow

Michelle Doherty

Michelle Doherty

Michelle is not only an outstanding youth worker, she is also a caring and compassionate human being whose commitment to young people goes way beyond her job description. Her work with the Youth Enterprise Zone includes a six-week programme entitled Connect with Enterprise which delivers confidence building, presentation skills, CV preparation, engagement with the business community, attending business events and the apprentice challenge. Participants of the programme presented with various personal issues but over 75% of them have now gone on to find employment or engage in further education. Michelle’s determination means any young person who she comes into contact with, gets the opportunities to get the life they deserve.

She promotes a positive partnership working ethos with the wider business community and it is those relationships that make ‘Connect with Enterprise’ such a successful project. Michelle’s determination means any young person who she comes into contact with, gets the opportunities to get the life they deserve.

Zara McDowell

Zara McDowell

Zara McDowell, Police Scotland – East Lothian

Zara is one of Tranent’s local Community Beat Officers with Police Scotland. Over the last year she has built up a strong relationship with local young people and has worked to break down a lot of the barriers and distrust that some of the young people in the community have with the police. Working in partnership with Recharge in Tranent, Zara developed the Tranent Summer Diversionary Programme, where 20 of the most challenging young people participated in group work and activities to help raise their confidence and improve their behaviour. A local young person feels “Zara is down to earth, really understanding and easy to talk to. I feel as if I can trust Zara with anything because she won’t judge me.”

YOUTH WORK MANAGER OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by DofE Scotland

Mark Molloy

Mark Molloy

Mark Molloy – Dumfries & Galloway Council

In the last five years Mark has transformed local services for young people in Dumfries and Galloway. Through consultation with young people, youth work services now offers the kind of opportunities and activities that local young people deserve. He has increased the profile of youth work and increased access to funding. There are now tailored services for marginalised groups of young people along-side International exchange programmes. His hard work and determination has seen great results such as the highly successful ‘Youth Beatz’ – Scotland’s largest free youth music event involving 12,000 young people. “Mark has taken a demotivated team and turned it into a highly motivated and thriving team who continue to achieve and be recognised for its work”.

Paul McFarlane

Paul McFarlane

Paul MacFarlane, Alyth Youth Partnership – Perth & Kinross Council

During the last year, Paul has worked above and beyond what is expected or required of him. Alyth Youth Partnership has gone through a period of significant changes in strategy, premises, funding and projects. Paul has remained the lynch pin by keeping staff, volunteers and participants focussed on the aims and objectives of the organisation. He has been involved in developing strategy, writing policies and finding the funding for the new and diverse range of activities. His positive input has resulted in an expansion of projects, increased resources and improved partnership working.

Liz Fergus

Liz Fergus

Liz Fergus – North Lanarkshire Council

Liz is the perfect example of a Youth Work Manager who has the best interests of young people at the heart of all of her work. She is a powerful advocate of the benefits of youth work both locally and nationally. Liz has made a lasting impact on the service, inspiring staff and young people to reach their full potential and she brings value to strategic partnership working in the areas of employability, child protection, sexual health, and diversionary activities for young people at risk resulting in improved services for young people. With several years experience in the field of CLD, Liz displays excellent leadership qualities, carrying out her role with determination, enthusiasm and passion.

National Youth Worker of the Year Awards 2014 – Meet the finalists – part three

Here are more of our incredible finalists in the categories of peer education, role model/mentor and those who work with young people on employability programmes.

PEER EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by YouthLink Scotland

Zarah Bano

Zarah Bano

Zarah Bano, Taylor High School – North Lanarkshire

Zarah Bano is a Peer Tutor at Taylor High School in Motherwell where she contributes to the work of the Support for Learning Department, helping S2 pupils with reading and comprehension. Her dedication, patience and positive attitude has really helped the pupils she works with and has given them someone to turn to when they are having difficulties at school. This has had a positive effect in their classes where young people are more willing to participate and contribute to the discussion. Zarah’s Teacher says: “In my five years of working here I have not known a student who exhibits such motivation, dedication, trustworthiness and self-discipline as Zarah.”

Cameron Swanson, The Paired Reading Club, Castlehead High School – Renfrewshire

Cameron Swanson

Cameron Swanson

For 17 years, the Paired Reading Group has been recognised as the biggest group of its kind in the UK. Last year, over 80 students volunteered their time to work with S1s and S2s to further develop their reading skills. Cameron has demonstrated continued engagement with the promotion of the club. He has many quality commitments to young people across a host of organisations and is wholly dedicated to all the groups and always endeavours to give his best.

Thomas Guy

Thomas Guy

Thomas Guy – West Dunbartonshire Council

Thomas is a voluntary youth worker and peer educator working with other young people, helping them to deal with difficult issues like knife crime and Internet bullying. Over the last two years, he has given hundreds of hours of his own time to support his peers. Recently he co-ordinated a film made by young people themselves on fire-raising and has delivered workshops on the dangers of carrying a knife. He also developed information on Internet safety, which he delivered to over 970 P7 pupils. As stated by one of his peers: “he always portrays good leadership skills, is dedicated to working with his peers and has a friendly and cheery nature.”

ROLE MODEL/MENTOR OF THE YEAR – Scottish Government

Leigh Anne Blair

Leigh Anne Blair

Leigh-Anne Blair, The Prince’s Trust – Glasgow

Leigh-Anne is a shining example to other young people of what can be achieved when you refuse to let your circumstances get the better of you. Leigh-Anne participated in the Prince’s Trust Team Programme (a 12-week personal development programme) and now volunteers as an Assistant Team Leader helping other young people make the most of their experiences and opportunities. Leigh-Anne commented on her work: “I want to show young people that you can achieve whatever you want, big or small, no matter what kind of background you come from.”

Alexander More

Alexander More

Alexander More, Bellshill Academy – North Lanarkshire

Alexander gives up his own time to volunteer with various groups across the community and local schools. He makes a huge impact on the young people he works with – for example the S4 Boys’ Group demonstrate better behaviour and increased school attendance as a direct result of Alexander’s input as well as helping a particular S2 student improve his reading skills. He is Bellshill Academy’s School Sports Ambassador having been selected by his peers in S5/S6. Alexander has achieved the ‘First Steps to Youth Work’ Award, is working towards his Silver DofE Award and is the local Commonwealth Games Youth Legacy Ambassador.

Callum Mckay

Callum Mckay

Callum McKay, Xplore Peer Mentoring – Dundee

Callum has simply turned his life around and has proved it is possible to turn negative experiences into more positive outcomes. He volunteers three times a week running a drop-in, cooking groups, boys’ groups and summer programmes. Callum also provides support to others, helping with independent travel and accessing local activities. Getting up at 5am to go to his bakery apprenticeship doesn’t stand in the way of his volunteering commitments. With 500 hours of volunteering under his belt he is now working towards his Silver Youth Achievement Award. A local youth worker from Dundee said: “Callum is an ideal role model for other young people – through his hard work and sheer determination to turn things around and change to be the best he could be. He is one of the best.”

OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL TRUSTED PROFESSIONAL – Sponsored by Scottish Government

Helen Boland

Helen Boland

Helen Boland – Glasgow City Council

For the past five years Helen has supported more than 300 young people to a better future. She is a determined practitioner, who does not give up at the first hurdle. Through her work, as a Trusted Professional, she has helped some of the most disadvantaged young people to turn their lives around, often working with young people who need to be encouraged to continue their learning. Helen is expert at using her skills and knowledge to work with young people to identify their short and long-term needs and aspirations in terms of personal and educational goals. She is highly acclaimed by the young people she supports and their parents/carers, her colleagues in schools, partner organisations and local training providers.

Margorie Harvie

Margorie Harvie

Margorie Harvie – East Ayrshire Council

Margorie undertakes the Trusted Professional role for young people across East Ayrshire where she helps them find a more positive path towards the future through building their confidence, skills and training. Everyone who works with Margorie is constantly amazed by the energy and enthusiasm she puts into what is a challenging role. Through a combination of empathy and good humour she is able to earn the trust of young people who have failed to engage with school, training providers or other support agencies, giving them a reason to get out of bed and making them feel part of society again. Margorie “makes things happen for young people, even when their confidence and self-esteem have been battered. She is able to pick them up, give them a renewed sense of purpose and help them find a more positive path”.

Fiona Weir

Fiona Weir

Fiona Weir – West Lothian Council

Fiona works with the Youth Inclusion Project in West Lothian in her role as a Trusted Professional. She has gained a wealth of experience and understanding of the barriers facing young people and she has been able to make a real difference to the life opportunities of those she works with. Making sure that young people within the care system have great life chances is something that Fiona feels passionately about, and has been at the forefront of developing the ‘What Next’ programme which offers young care leavers a six week employability training programme. Fiona “goes above and beyond the call of duty with regards to the young people that she works with and supports.”

National Youth Worker of the Year Awards 2014 – Meet the finalists – Part two

PrintThree finalists have been shortlisted in each of the 11 categories. The winners will be announced and presented with their award at the National Youth Worker of the Year Awards Dinner in Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on Thursday 13 March 2014. The event will be hosted by broadcaster and Forth One DJ, Grant Stott and the awards presented by Scotland’s Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell MSP.

Here are some more of our outstanding finalists for 2014…

INNOVATIVE PRACTICE – TEAM OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by CLD Standards Council for Scotland

Perth YMCA

Perth YMCA

Perth & District YMCA Social Impact Bond – Perth

In 2011, Perth and District YMCA established the first ever Social Impact Bond in Scotland. It established a group of local investors who provided funding for three years to tackle NEET issues through the theme of employability. In the three years the scheme has supported 300 local young people to achieve a positive outcome, with some 65% of young people gaining employment and over 90% sustaining that employment after a year. Peter Crory, Chief Executive of YMCA Scotland said: “I am proud that we have such innovative and resilient staff and I am very proud of every last one of the young people involved.”

YouthBorders – Scottish Borders

YouthBorders

YouthBorders

Working in partnership with Scottish Borders Council, YouthBorders developed the Youth Work Futures Project, which champions the youth work sector in the Borders to enable greater resilience and sustainability. Through partnership working, they have supported the emergence of seven lead youth work organisations who take forward voluntary youth work in every high school catchment and learning community across the region. This has seen an increase of 35% of young people accessing youth work and the number of groups rising from 27 to 35.

The Princes Trust and MAKLab

The Princes Trust and MAKLab

The Prince’s Trust & MAKLab – Glasgow

The Prince’s Trust Scotland joined forces with MAKLab to deliver new and exciting STEM workshops for young people in Glasgow, where they have been learning how to design and create their own products and develop potential new business ideas. MAKLab is a three-stage programme helping young people to develop vital skills for a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This programme has helped a group of unemployed young people who may have struggled to access this kind of opportunity, to develop cutting edge skills to help them find employment.

YOUTH WORKER OF THE YEAR (UNIFORMED ORGANISATIONS) – Sponsored by YouthLink Scotland

John Bowman, Peterhead Sea Cadet Unit – Aberdeenshire

John Bowman

John Bowman

John has been involved in the SCC for over 20 years, joining as a junior cadet in 1993. In his current role as Captain of the Peterhead Sea Cadet Unit, he has been a key player in the International Cadet Exchange scheme which gives opportunities for cadets to connect with young people in Australia, South Korea, Bermuda, the Netherlands and Russia. The Unit has won many awards, including the coveted Canada Cup for the best unit in the UK and the Stephenson Trophy for best unit in the Northern Area (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern England). In the last 18 months he has secured funding of £50,000 for structural works at HQ.

Colin Weir

Colin Weir

Colin Weir, The Boys’ Brigade – North Lanarkshire

Colin is Captain of the 2nd/4th Motherwell Boys’ Brigade and is the heart of the exciting and creative opportunities being delivered. 2013 being the 125th anniversary of the Company Colin planned 125 miles of walking, which enabled the boys to visit different areas in Scotland whilst also building relationships. He is truly inspirational as he consistently shows the perfect example of a committed, respectable and humble leader who has improved the confidence and opportunities of local young people. A member of the Unit said: “I have a lot to thank Colin for.”

Hugh Barras

Hugh Barras

Hugh Barras, Clyde North Sea Cadets – West Lothian

Hugh has been involved with the Sea Cadets for 32 years and is currently District Officer for Clyde North Sea Cadets. In this role he has to ensure that each unit is fully supported and that all training conducted fits the vision and strategy of the organisation, as well as current safe practices. In his present role he has achieved a marked increase in participation from young people and the unit has won major events in boatwork, swimming and football. A cadet said of Hugh: “he is an encouraging and jolly individual who throughout his SCC career has helped both cadets and staff reach their potential.”

YOUTH WORKER OF THE YEAR (INTERGENERATIONAL) – Generations Working Together

Dawn Mullady

Dawn Mullady

Dawn Mullady, The Drugs Initiative Group, The Pitstop Youth Café – Angus

Dawn has been creative in her approach by bringing young people, volunteers and a wide range of members of the community together to enhance young people’s social and personal development. Utilising weaving as a tool to enhance young people’s progress, where they had opportunities to explore their local history and enhance their skills. The young people involved have been inspired to build friendships with older members of the community helping them to break down barriers to any stereotyping that previously existed. One of the young people involved said: “Dawn has had a massive impact on myself and on other young people. The reason for this is she is very supportive, extremely happy in everything she does and makes me feel comfortable.”

Linda Cook

Linda Cook

Linda Cook, Alyth Youth Partnership – Perth & Kinross

Linda’s major achievements this year have been the development of two projects; Alyth Job Busters and Alyth Time Team, where she leads and supports young volunteers. The Alyth Time Team is an intergenerational programme to help all members of the community with a time banking project. Members of the community of all ages are invited to offer their time to provide a service for another person (e.g. an hour of gardening). They are then entitled to receive a benefit from someone else in the time bank (e.g. an hour of painting). This collaborative project with PKAVS has enabled a multi-generational approach to deliver a community wide service driven by young people. Linda is seen as “positive and encouraging to all those she engages with.”

Yvonne Boa, HighLife Highland Development Worker – Ullapool High Schol

Yvonne Boa

Yvonne Boa

Yvonne has been a youth worker in the area for 11 years and was fundamental in setting up the ‘Get to Know your Techno’ project, which brings the older and younger generations together through social media. This initiative has not only bridged the gap between the older and younger generations, it has improved the independence of the older people. The programme went on to win the Young Scot ‘Truth About Youth’ Award. As well as helping young people to set up a youth space, Yvonne has initiated a mental health awareness project. Young people say that she is “a warm, open and modest person who we feel we can talk to and get emotional and practical support from.”

National Youth Worker of the Year Awards 2014 – Meet the finalists – Part One

PrintThe Awards, run by YouthLink Scotland, recognise and celebrate outstanding achievement with young people by managers, practitioners, peer educators, teams and individuals who work within Scotland’s youth work sector.

Three finalists have been shortlisted in each of the 11 categories. The winners will be announced and presented with their award at the National Youth Worker of the Year Awards Dinner in Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on Thursday 13 March 2014. The event will be hosted by broadcaster and Forth One DJ, Grant Stott and the awards presented by Scotland’s Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell MSP.

Here are some of our outstanding finalists for 2014…

YOUTH WORKER OF THE YEAR FULL-TIME – Sponsored by Scottish Fire and Rescue

Kelly Ross, Oasis Youth Centre – Dumfries and Galloway

Kelly Ross_Fulltime

Kelly Ross

Kelly has been involved in some ground breaking work with the community, for example, setting up ‘Bouncin Bairns’ a project for young parents and ‘My Body and Me’, a project which looks at the issues around body confidence. Kelly is currently working with a group of young people who are involved in an International volunteering project to Australia. A recent HMIE inspection report of the youth centre congratulated her inspirational work with local young people. Kelly is described by the young people she works with as: “a rock for any young person and will always be there to listen and help you through.”

Suzanne Heggie_Fulltime

Suzanne Heggie

Suzanne Heggie, Kirkcaldy YMCA – Fife

Suzanne supports young people in one of the most deprived communities in Scotland. As part of her work with local young people, Suzanne has set up a Walking Group, empowering teenage girls to become more physically active, an initiative that has attracted national interest; she is currently working with the girls to become sports ambassadors. Her work with local young people on sexual health resulted in her being shortlisted for the Scottish Health Awards last year. Over the years Suzanne has developed strong relationships with the young people she works alongside, built on respect and trust.

Gary Kirkpatrick

Gary Kirkpatrick

Gary Kirkpatrick, DofE – Dumfries & Galloway

Gary, DofE Development Worker for Dumfries and Galloway Council, supports young people to achieve their Award as well as community groups who want to run the Award scheme. In the last five years, Gary has increased the number of local young people involved in the DofE Awards by 300%. Now over 600 new young people every year get the opportunity to get into the wilds and gain an amazing life experience and a DofE Award. Recently he supported a group of young people who raised £20,000, which meant this group of local young people were able to take part in an International youth volunteering project in the USA. Gary’s nominator described him as: “one of the most enthusiastic workers I have every worked with.”

YOUTH WORKER OF THE YEAR PART-TIME- Sponsored by YouthLink Scotland

Shona Cormack

Shona Cormack

Shona Cormack, Granton Youth Centre – North Edinburgh Street Work

Shona co-ordinates GYC’s Streetwork Team enabling them to make contact with over 1600 young people every year. Shona has recently helped develop and produce an Alcohol Toolkit aimed at youth work and street work staff looking to focus on an alcohol based interventions approach with young people on the street. This toolkit will soon be rolled out Edinburgh-wide. Shona continues to come up with inspiring ideas and initiatives for young people, including football sessions in partnership with Spartans Football Academy

 
Nicholas Kelly

Nicholas Kelly, Broadford Youth Club – Isle of SkyeNicholas Kelly

Nicholas has been integral in making Broadford’s young people take up many opportunities. From sports, like badminton, football and fitness classes, to life skills, like learning to drive. He manages to adhere to the needs and preferences of a wide range of personalities. Nicholas adds a personal touch to his work as well, caring for each and every one of the young people as if they were family. As far as the young people he works with are concerned, “he’s a legend in our community”.

Katie Denehy, Castlebay Community School – Western Isles

Katie Denehy

Katie Denehy

Katie supports the local Youth Council, which recently had huge success in delivering free WiFi on ferries and improved mobile phone signal on the island. Katie’s many achievements include establishing the Barra Youth Café, regular movie nights within the school, the primary youth club, which has 75 members each week, as well as driving the young people and their campaign for an all-weather pitch. Katie is currently piloting the DofE within the school and is involved in supporting young people through their Youth Achievement and Volunteer Awards.

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by Young Scot

Louie Pastore, Action for Children/Larkfield Link Up – Inverclyde

Louis Pastore

Louis Pastore

Louie has been on an exceptional journey with Action for Children. He has turned his life around and is volunteering tirelessly to help others do the same. Louie’s life was on a bit of a downward spiral when he was referred to the Constructs programme. He successfully completed the programme and is now a lead volunteer within the Larkfield Link Up project. He has a positive outlet for the anger and isolation he previously felt and is making a positive contribution to the lives of the young people he supports. He has taken his own experiences and used them to encourage young people not to get involved in offending, as well as helping them to deal with peer pressure. Louie is now an asset to his community and an Ambassador for Action for Children, as well as currently undertaking a National Certificate in Youth Work.

Thomas Wotherspoon, Fuse Youth Café – Glasgow

Thomas Wotherspoon

Thomas Wotherspoon

Volunteering with the Fuse Youth Café Thomas has been leading the way on film-making and cookery sessions. Thomas has undergone numerous training sessions and earned multiple certificates in anti-bullying, money skills and child protection. Thomas is currently working towards a Youth Achievement Award, and is described as “an awesome guy who always encouraged me to do the projects even when I wasn’t up for it.”

Craig Boyd, Flavours of Fife – Fife

Craig Boyd

Craig Boyd

For the last two years, Craig has volunteered with LGBT young people in Fife, and was instrumental in establishing the youth group – Flavours of Fife. As a local business owner, he has used his community links to help fundraise and recruit young people. Craig has attended many local and national training and partnership events. He is a positive role model for all the young people he works with and a friendly community face, which has given the young people in the group confidence, reassurance and hope for the future. His nominator said of him “every so often a volunteer walks into your life and just takes your breath away.”