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.”

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