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.”

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