Let’s hear it for the finalists


The 8th National Youth Worker of the Year Awards will be an outstanding showcase of the remarkable work that is being done right across the nation.

Over 50% of Scotland’s young people are involved in youth work according to statistics from YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youth work.

In every area of the country there are countless examples of people, paid and unpaid who do great work with young people that quite literally changes lives. This year’s finalists show that investing in our young people is absolutely critical to the economic success of Scotland and the life chances of this young generation.

YLS Awards 2015 logo




Here are this year’s finalists:

Youth Worker of the Year (Full-time or full-time equivalent) – sponsored by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

Jacqui Kennedy, The Prince’s Trust Team Programme, Glasgow

Jacqui Kennedy with Prince's Trust

Jacqui Kennedy with Prince’s Trust

Improving the lives of vulnerable young people has meant a place in the final for Jacqui Kennedy who works with youngsters in the city’s Maryhill area. Jacqui has worked with Maryhill Community Central Halls for over 17 years and has been running the Prince’s Trust Team programme for 14 years. She has made a really positive impact on the local community and has helped many young people into work through partnership with a variety of local projects and organisations. Over the years Jacqui has helped nearly 700 young people move forward in life. She works with those facing multiple challenges including mental health needs, homelessness, substance misuse, offending, care leavers, single parents and young people with disabilities.

Susan Cain, Programme Executive with The Prince’s Trust, who nominated Jacqui said:

“Jacqui has supported hundreds of young people over the years and they all say they have grown in confidence, have challenged themselves to try new things and faced their fears. They now have the opportunity to change things for the better and ultimately have hope for the future. To have this kind of impact on so many young people and so many positive outcomes is an outstanding achievement.”

Kerry Smith, The Prince’s Trust Team Programme, Edinburgh

Kerry Smith

Kerry Smith

Among those shortlisted is the new Chief Executive of YMCA Scotland, Kerry Reilly, who has taken YMCA Edinburgh through a period of significant change in the past 7 years in her former role as youth work manager for the organisation. YMCA Edinburgh supports a number of initiatives focused on Schools and Youth Work. During 2011 they reached in excess of 2100 individual young people through traditional youth clubs, mentoring programmes, a film making project, school-based 1:1 support and school chaplaincy.Her leadership and dedication to the lives of young people has quite literally changed lives. Hayley Gillies who nominated Kerry said:

“I was a young person when I stared working with Kerry – she changed my life! But I am one of many. Every young person that has met her, that has experienced her enthusiasm, passion and care for them will sense the reality and warmth of it and respond to her in a positive way, allowing her to engage with them and support and encourage them to fulfil their potential”.

Karen Anderson, Citadel Youth Centre, Edinburgh

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson of Citadel Youth Centre is also up for an award in recognition of her work with young women in Leith through Citadel’s Girlz Time and Young Mum’s projects.

She has contributed consistently to the field of youth work for over 18 years. It is thanks to Karen’s success that the Girlz Time projected has lasted so long. Through the peer mentoring programme she has developed, and through her personal coaching and support, Karen has helped several young women go on to college, volunteering and/or the world of work. One young mum who was supported by her said: “Karen has provided me and my son with so much support and encouragement over the last four years that without her I don’t know where I would be”.

Citadel Youth Centre provides individual support, open youth clubs and groups for children and young people aged 6-21; their various programmes also include work with young mums. The centre prioritises work with vulnerable and marginalised young people and children.

Youth Worker of the Year (Sessional paid/part time) – sponsored by One Awards

Bruce MacKintosh, North Ayrshire Council

Bruce MacKintosh

Bruce MacKintosh

Bruce works for North Ayrshire Council Youth Services, who provide information, advice and support, to help young people make informed choices about what’s happening in their life and make plans for the future.

He has been an extremely valued and important member of the youth work team for more than 3 years. During this period he has progressed and developed a new business, Model X Media, with 2 other partners. This is a community interest company and the profits are used to provide for those who need them. He also mentors young offenders and is actively involved in the anti-poverty initiative food banks across North Ayrshire.

Graeme Johnstone, who attended a programme run by Bruce on Arran, said, “Bruce was just like one of us when it came to the activities and even had the guts to come paintballing with us! Since he was like one of us it made it more fun and he had a laugh with us, but also he was responsible with it so we could trust his judgement and listened to what he had to tell us. Plus his beard needs an award in itself.”

Stuart McPhail, Renfrewshire Council/Erskine Senior Youth Club

Stuart McPhail

Stuart McPhail

Stuart McPhail from North Barr in Erskine has been nominated for Scotland’s part-time youth worker of the year 2015 for his work with local young people.

The youth club based in Bargarran Community Centre provides a safe environment for all young people where they can have fun and learn new things. Stuart has been a youth worker for 8 years and works mainly with 14 to 20 year olds. He always tries to engage those who come through his doors by challenging their ideas and creating activities where they can learn about politics, working life, their community, respecting others and further learning.

Since his time as a youth worker he has been a positive role model within the local community. Ann Alexander who nominated him for this national award said:

“Stuart is a very good ambassador for youth wok and gives 100% always. He is very popular in the youth club and is well respected by the young people who attend.”

Lesley Scullion, Y Sort It, Clydebank

Lesley Scullion

Lesley Scullion

Lesley works for Y Sort It, an innovative youth service in West Dunbartonshire which provides support and advice to young people between the ages of 12 and 25. She is responsible for a young parents’ project, streetwork, and the Wrecked and Wasted Peer Education Group and Youth Café.

Lesley is very passionate about making sure young people know the dangers and risks that they may put themselves in, around issues of alcohol and drug misuse.  The young people who nominated her agree that Lesley goes far to provide support for those with problems.

Nathan, 16, said: “Lesley goes the extra mile for young people, I would know this as I went through a very dark time with bad depression and Lesley went out of her way to check up on me daily and help me bounce back.”

Michelle, 17, added, “I’ve known Lesley for many years and she is one of the youth workers who has deliberately gotten to know me.”

Volunteer of the Year – sponsored by Young Scot

Sue Cook

Sue Cook

Sue Cook, The Prince’s Trust Youth Business Scotland, Livingston

Sue Cook, who was able to set up her own business 20 years ago thanks to the Prince’s Trust, decided that she wanted to give something back to the Trust and the young people of West Lothian. Now Regional Chairman since 2003, Sue has volunteered with the Prince’s Trust for 16 years, is always ‘on duty’ and finds opportunities to promote and support young people in business wherever she can.

Sue has worked tirelessly and been instrumental in awarding funding to 400 businesses, which has generated over 500 jobs for the area. She always goes the extra mile to promote and support young people in business whenever she can.

Chloe Thom, Craigneuk and Petersburn Action for Kids, Airdrie

Chloe Thom

Chloe Thom

Chloe herself knows the need for more youth based activities in her neighbourhood and a place where young people can come for support. She has overcome many barriers, including domestic abuse, and turned her experience into a positive by volunteering with Action for Kids.

From raising topics such as domestic abuse, fundraising for local charities, supporting other young people who face difficulties in life and local youth work, Chloe has encouraged local youngsters to bring about change for the better in their communities. She is also a Sports Ambassador for St Margaret’s High School.

Owen Smith

Owen Smith

Owen Smith, Erskine Youth Council

Owen joined Erskine Youth Council at the age of 13 and also started volunteering with the Junior Youth Club. The youth council has been around for 30 years, it aims to give young people a voice through getting involved to help create a better environment in their community for young people.

During this time he has organised Commonwealth projects, visits to London for local young people and has been involved in fundraising for Erskine youth clubs. He is a natural leader and has a passion for helping others and getting things done, his commitment was recently rewarded when he was voted in as Chair of the Erskine Youth Council, a role he is looking forward to.

Innovative Practice – Team of the Year – sponsored by CLD Standards Council for Scotland

Callander Youth Project Team

Callander Youth Project Team

Callander Youth Project Trust

The Callander Youth Project Trust (CYPT) work with young people, aged 11-25, across one of the biggest rural catchment areas in Scotland. They offer the SQA Steps to Work programme, Modern Apprenticeships, Activity Agreements and Community Jobs Scotland positions within the organisation. Their internal social enterprise wing supports young people by offering opportunities to develop practical skills in catering, hospitality, and the tourism sector. The local labour market in Callander is focussed on hospitality and tourism; CYPT support young people into these jobs.

CYPT has taken a hugely entrepreneurial and innovative approach in raising money to become self-financing, in order to create opportunities for young people. With many of the vegetables and herbs used grown in their own garden, the Bridgend Café opened in 2013. Their deep fried haggis isn’t bad either!! On June 12th 2014, CYPT launched the 5 star Callander Hostel and have had 2,000+ guests since the doors opened. They turned an old, unused building into a key part of the community.

The nomination for the Innovative Practice – Team of the Year Award was supported by Chairman Dan McKirgan: “I have encountered so many young people who came to us with low confidence, unable to make eye contact. These young people have been empowered to leave us as independent young people and it is thanks to the team that these young people are supported through their progression and even afterwards. It is wonderful to see young people thriving in other jobs within the town and beyond.”

Sikh Sanjog

Sikh Sanjog

Sikh Sanjog/DofE Heritage Inclusion Project

In 2013, the female support group Sikh Sanjog started a DofE Inclusion project to support Ethnically and Culturally Diverse young women to explore individual responsibilities, leadership and targeted developmental skills that will enhance their lives and have a positive impact on their choices when leaving school.

There are currently over 50 young women in Edinburgh right now doing their DofE as part of the Sikh Sanjog Inclusion Project. Often these young women would not have the chance to take part in extra-curricular activities outside the home. To gain the trust of both the young women and their families, youth workers tailor the sessions to be culturally sensitive.

Khaleda Noon, Youth Work Manager for Sikh Sanjog said:

“Through our team delivering positive youth work, the innovative DofE Heritage Inclusion Project, will now be a curriculum choice for 2015 at the Royal High School through our youth work and schools partnership. We will continue to strive to make sure all young girls have equal opportunity and are able to choose their own path in life regardless of their ethnicity and culture.”

Moving On Team

Moving On Team

The Moving On Team at Action for Children Scotland

Challenging negative stereotypes around young offenders has secured a place in the final line up for The Moving On Team at Action for Children. The project helps young men to leave prison in their past and build successful futures. 85% of young men involved with Moving On do not re-offend compared to the national average of 45%.

Moving on Scotland services (based in Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, East Ayrshire and the Highlands) engage with young men as they leave prison, helping them to rebuild their lives and reducing rates of reoffending. This year they have supported 130 young men across Scotland.

This year Action for Children Scotland developed ‘Yes Chef!’. Over seven weeks the young men learned catering skills and gained food hygiene qualifications. On completion they devised a three course menu and cooked for 200 guests at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow. The event raised £13,000 for Action for Children Scotland. From the course, two young men were offered jobs by head chefs who were impressed by their talent and enthusiasm.

Youth Worker of the Year (Uniformed Organisations) – sponsored by Youth Scotland

Captain Darren Hughes

Captain Darren Hughes

Darren Hughes, Glasgow and Lanarkshire Battalion Army Cadet Force

Darren Hughes is part of the training team at the headquarters of the Glasgow and Lanarkshire Battalion of the Army Cadet Force (ACF). Through Darren’s work with the ACF training syllabus young people can achieve a range of employer recognised qualifications like the SQA Leadership course. This year 14 cadets from Govan High School were the first in Scotland to achieve this qualification as part of a pilot scheme, which will now be rolled out across the country.

He has been nominated for an award for his development of new initiatives that have given young people employability skills, helping them to secure a future job. In 2014 almost 100 local cadets gained qualifications through the ACF programme.

Colonel Patrick O’Meara who nominated Captain Hughes said:

“Darren is an exemplar of the motto of the ACF ‘Inspire to Achieve’. He is dedicated to his voluntary work with young people and their high numbers of achievements is testament to that.”

Cameron Gray, The Boys’ Brigade/Engage a Generation

Cameron Gray

Cameron Gray

Cameron is a member of 1st Cumbernauld Company, The Boys’ Brigade (BBs). The Boys’ Brigade is the oldest voluntary uniformed youth organisation, whose main aim is to support and develop young people for life through a programme of informal learning and activities. Each week over 20,000 young people, aged 5 to 18, take part in one of our 450 groups, supported by around 4,500 volunteers.

Over the course of 17 years, Cameron has given his time to The BBs and really been at the forefront of a positive movement. He turns up every week to take part in the sessions and provides his unique spin on what many believe is just a traditional BB night.

On the 11th-14th of September 2014, Cameron was again at the forefront of another extraordinary task, breaking a Guinness World Record. Cameron brought together 15 young people, along with many support team members, to break the Guinness World Record for the ‘Longest Continuous Game of 5-a-side Football’. They played for a remarkable 55 hours, surpassing the previous record of 53. Tying down a full-time job and trying to organise this whole event deserves a record in itself, but it can be safely said that without Cameron’s involvement it would only ever have remained a pipe dream.

Youth Worker of the Year (Intergenerational) – sponsored by Generations Working Together

Clark Community Choir

Clark Community Choir

The Clark Community Choir, Musselburgh

The Clark Community Choir is a unique concept, the youngest member of the choir is 6 and the oldest 86 and in some instances 3 generations of a family sing together. The choir’s motto is ‘We sing because we are happy – we’re happy because we sing’.

This community choir is a team effort and they are now very much part of the colour of Musselburgh, entertaining to fundraise for worthy causes and supporting local charities. Anyone who asks them to sing for them is entertained at no charge whatsoever – they turn no one down! The group also raise all their own cash for equipment, transport and the hire of their rehearsal rooms.

Samantha Windram, aged 13, has been singing with the Clark Community Choir since she was 8 years old:

“Our oldest members are Joyce and Jim, who are both 86 and they are great fun. I love singing, Jim and I get to do wee solo bits during Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer when we have been out and about this year. I have learned that it doesn’t matter what age you are, I can have fun with folk older and younger than me, and you look out for one another when you are in a group like ours.”

Sharon Bowers

Sharon Bowers

Sharon Bowers, Acre Community Hall, Glasgow

For the past 12 years, Sharon Bowers and a small pool of volunteers have provided clubs and groups for all ages in the community. Her youth work service, run on behalf of the resident’s association, is the only service for young people in the local area. They provide individual support, open youth clubs and groups for children and young people aged 6-21. A lot of her work focusses on vulnerable and marginalised young people, gaining their trust and giving them the confidence to go back to education, training or finding a work placement or job.

Sharon’s nominator, Patrick Kondracki, Young Person’s Worker with YouthPoint Glasgow said:

“Empathy and understanding sets Sharon apart. Giving young people, even those who tried to set fire to the community hall, a second chance. Her strength of character and dedication is incredible, despite having long term chronic health problems, she remains committed to Acre’s young people who need her help.”

Role Model/Mentor of the Year – sponsored by Education Scotland

Hayley MacNaught

Hayley MacNaught

Hayley MacNaught, Airdrie Young Parents Programme

Hayley is one of the three finalists in the Role Model category who all come from Airdrie. She has been nominated for her work with Bouncing Babies group, a project that focusses on parent and child bonding and development, the group is run in partnership with the council and One Parent Families Scotland.

Bouncing Babies is part of Airdrie Young Parents Programme which provides support for young people under 21 who are pregnant or have a child.

Hayley, a young mum herself, found out she was pregnant with her son Callum when she was 15. The Young Parents Programme gave her the support she needed and in particular helped her cope with her son’s autism. Being involved with the project gave Hayley opportunities she would not have otherwise had and the chance to gain qualifications and take part in employability courses for young parents. She has been volunteering with Bouncing Babies for over a year now and is a great support to the other young mums.

Gordon Watson, Caldervale High School, Airdrie

Gordon Watson

Gordon Watson

Gordon Watson has been shortlisted for Role Model of the Year for his commitment to helping younger pupils at Caldervale High School cope with personal difficulties. Gordon is a peer mentor and a member of the school council. Despite being a very private person, he has used his own personal experiences to highlight to others that your life experience does not need to be a barrier to success. The S1 pupils that he supports in and out of school hours value him greatly. One of the S1 pupils said: “Gordon is gives me tips on how to avoid the bad things that could happen around school, he listens to me and pays attention, he is a good person.”

Heather Kennedy, Caldervale High School, Airdrie

Heather Kennedy

Heather Kennedy

Heather Kennedy plans to go to university to study medicine and has a part-time job as a dance teacher. In school she is a peer mentor for fellow pupils on various projects promoting sport, healthy lifestyles and dance. She is the school’s vice-captain and volunteers during school holidays with sports programmes and helping Primary 7 pupils prepare for Secondary School.

Susan Harrison who nominated Heather for this award said:

“Heather’s enthusiasm is infectious and other pupils, particularly those difficult to reach, respond positively to her encouragement. For some she is evidence that family bereavement need not hold you back and for others she is a role model in citizenship, that you can give of yourself and reap the reward of knowing you made a difference.”

Youth Work Manager of the Year – sponsored by The DofE – Scotland

Kerry Reilly, YMCA, Edinburgh

Kerry Reilly

Kerry Reilly

Among those shortlisted is the new Chief Executive of YMCA Scotland, Kerry Reilly, who has taken YMCA Edinburgh through a period of significant change in the past 7 years in her former role as youth work manager for the organisation. YMCA Edinburgh supports a number of initiatives focused on Schools and Youth Work. During 2011 they reached in excess of 2100 individual young people through traditional youth clubs, mentoring programmes, a film making project, school-based 1:1 support and school chaplaincy.Her leadership and dedication to the lives of young people has quite literally changed lives. Hayley Gillies who nominated Kerry said:

“I was a young person when I stared working with Kerry – she changed my life! But I am one of many. Every young person that has met her, that has experienced her enthusiasm, passion and care for them will sense the reality and warmth of it and respond to her in a positive way, allowing her to engage with them and support and encourage them to fulfil their potential.”

Kevin Wells, East Ayrshire Council

Kevin Wells

Kevin Wells

Kevin has been nominated for the Youth Work Manager of the Year Award for his outstanding vision, leadership and excellent partnership working ethos. He has steered the Council through a period of difficult change and his leadership of young people’s services across the local area has resulted in a range of fantastic opportunities for local youngsters.

His ICT knowledge and his passion for gadgets and apps keep him up to date with social media etc. and many of the current trends -#goodguy! This is all achieved, “on the back of Kevin’s extremely personable nature, which empowers staff to work harder on his behalf,” according to his nominators, Craig Fulton and Heather McCormick, who work within his team:

“His vision and drive to ensure best practice and innovation in all services relating to young people makes him stand out. He routinely puts the outcome for the community and in particular young people above local and national policy and practice, fighting for his desired outcome.”

Agencies and Partners Organisations Worker of the Year – Scottish Community Safety Network

Ian Fraser, Skillforce, Coatbridge

Ian Fraser

Ian Fraser

Ian works with hundreds of vulnerable young people who find it difficult to operate in a group or sustain learning programmes. Ian is very patient, respectful and supportive. He uses his rich life experience and skills from his military background to establish a rapport with the young people, whilst also setting boundaries and responsibilities, which builds confidence and enthusiasm in the youngsters.

Young person Andrew Christie, who is involved with the Wishaw Learning Hubs, says Ian really deserves this award:

“Ian helps me with my learning needs. I use a colour overlay when reading and sometimes find it hard to understand long instructions – he explains things differently so that I can understand and also brings in bigger printed worksheets so that it is easier for me to use my overlay. He is always asking our opinions and always thinks about the young people he works with. Before I came to the hub I didn’t have any qualifications – but now I do!”

Graeme Stewart, The Prince’s Trust Team Programme, Police Scotland & Edinburgh College

Graeme Stewart

Graeme Stewart

Building great community relations has meant a place in the final for Police Constable, Graeme Stewart, based in Dalkeith, for his partnership work with the Prince’s Trust Team programme and Edinburgh College through Police Scotland.

The Team Programme is a 12-week personal development programme helping young people into education, training and employment. Since 1990 Prince’s Trust Team Programmes have been bringing young people together from different backgrounds and different levels of achievement to work together in their communities.

As part of the programme, Graeme brought the locals together through a unique Arts Project which gave the young people feel a bigger sense of belonging to their community. The project used local history through art to leave a lasting legacy for Dalkeith.

Lisa Jamieson, Scottish Sports Futures, Glasgow

Lisa Jamieson

Lisa Jamieson

Lisa Jamieson, a youth worker with Active East is up for an award for her partnership with Fuse Youth Café in Shettleston. Fuse is a charity working in the local area providing services for young people who face the risks and challenges associated with an area of high deprivation.

Working alongside Fuse and other partners, Lisa Jamieson has recruited 60 local Active Champions, young volunteers aged 14-25 who have an interest in sports and physical activity.

The programme offers enthusiastic young people the opportunity to volunteer within their local sports and physical activity sessions gaining valuable skills, experiences and accredited awards.

Leaving the East End a vibrant active legacy from the Games is close to Lisa’s heart.

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