The potential to hate

Sarah Robinson Galloway, Digital Development and Participation Officer for Action on Sectarianism, tells us how youth work can create a safer, more inclusive and accepting future for young people in the face of extremism.

sarah-robinson-gallowayIn light of the suspected terrorist attack in Berlin this week, and indeed all of the attacks of the past year, it is important to remember that they are conducted by individuals who subscribe to an extreme viewpoint. Following the events in Paris, Ankara and Brussels, to name a few, we run the risk of fearing and hating whole communities, faiths, cultures and nationalities because of the actions of a small number of individuals.

It is easy to feel threatened, to feel suspicious of anyone who appears different, to distrust refugees, asylum seekers or anyone who comes from a different background or culture. We fear what we do not understand and we hate what threatens us. Extremist and radicalised behaviour is a threat to our security but it doesn’t exist in just one culture, faith or country. There are many different strands of extremism and for each individual who goes through some form of radicalisation, it takes a different path. Continue reading


Attainment: a breakthrough with youth work


Education Scotland’s Strategic Director, Graeme Logan, believes we have a unique opportunity to make the breakthrough needed to close the attainment gap. He is currently leading the Scottish Attainment Challenge in partnership with Scottish Government and local authorities. For him youth work will be very much part of that breakthrough. He sets out his vision for youth work and schools.

pg-3-graeme-loganAt Education Scotland we are supporting schools to design a curriculum that gives all young people the experiences and opportunities to achieve to the highest possible standards. This includes planning key interventions and support from a range of professionals including youth workers. For children living in areas of deprivation, this can often involve widening their experiences and achievements.

Increasingly, we are seeing youth workers work alongside teachers and others who support children and young people, and the sector has a key role to play in helping us to achieve our vision of excellence and equity for every child and young person.

Youth workers often connect with young people in a way that makes a tremendous difference to confidence and self-esteem as well as to knowledge and skills. I have been hugely impressed by work I have seen, some of it when I was a head teacher, where youth workers are extending the experiences, opportunities and achievements for young people and children as young as eight, helping them improve their motivation and engagement. Continue reading

A youth worker on The Apprentice? It’s not in our nature!


A moment captured – Kerry Reilly realises she’s won

Kerry Reilly, Chief Executive of YMCA Scotland tells us why youth workers should be more vocal about their achievements.

Youthlink Scotland Award ceremonyIs it just me, or is there something in the psyche of the average youth worker that shies away from overtly advertising or promoting our own professional achievements?  Perhaps that is why there has never been a youth worker on ‘The Apprentice’ because we are primarily interested in making a difference for young people and for our local communities,  rather than self-promotion and individual gain.   As youth workers, we are amongst the first to find every opportunity to celebrate the achievements of young people, to put them in the limelight and to celebrate the impact that youth work has on their lives.

If we believe what we say in Scotland about the nature and purpose of youth work, then one of the founding principals is that ‘youth work recognises the young person and the youth worker as partners in a learning process’.  Any human partnership requires more than one individual, and therefore the outcomes of that partnership are a result of both parties, not just one.

As a previous winner of Youth Work Manager of the Year, it is a humbling experience to be an award winner but also a great privilege to know that your individual contribution is valued by colleagues, peers and young people. This year we held our first every YMCA Awards Dinner in Scotland, celebrating the achievements of our young people, our youth workers and our volunteers.  If felt great to take time out to say thank you and to recognise the contributions and achievements of individuals. Continue reading

Play should be a right, not an oversight.


Fraser Falconer, Vice Chair of YouthLink Scotland Board, highlights the need for play at a time when our young people are increasingly indoors.

My first play/youth work happened nearly fifty years ago when I was an accidental volunteer. A small group of boys kicked a ball about on the street as I came home from my first job after leaving school. They wanted both to play football and have fun. I helped them put a team together and we played for a year or so until street life changed and we all moved on. My summers in the early 1970s, similar to those of hundreds of youth and community students at college, were spent organising holiday play schemes. They varied in quality but it was an important experience for many children through the long holiday period. The community support made many good things happen from games to day trips. I had one very significant student placement in a pioneering adventure playground in London. It was self-built from railway sleepers and timber from the area. It was outside but never empty after school and at the weekends. It was staffed by a range of volunteers as well as part-time workers and leaders.

I’m lucky that for some years through the Nancy Ovens Awards for Play, my work for BBC Children In Need and with YouthLink Scotland, I have come to know that early appropriate intervention with children and young people of all ages works for good, whether it is focused on play or youth work. Most youth work organisations had and still have junior sections where although there might be formalities, there is always time for play. As the roaming circles for children have become smaller, it sometimes feels that the recognition of what play means for different children and young people has shrunk too. Continue reading

Celebration, Recognition, Promotion, Inspiration

National Youth Worker of the Year Awards 2016

Former Chief Executive of Scouts Scotland, Jim Duffy, on the benefits behind the National Youth Worker of the Year Awards.

“This is so unexpected. I’m lost for words. So, I’d just like to thank my mother, my father, my auntie Jemima, my two goldfish that helped me through a challenging childhood, inspiration provided by Paulo Freire, my best friend… etc., etc., etc., all of whom have contributed to my marvellous achievement in securing this prestigious award tonight…”

Thankfully, the YouthLink Scotland National Youth Worker of the Year Awards Ceremony doesn’t suffer from insincere over-the-top Oscar-type speeches by overwrought Award recipients. Coming up to their 10th year, these national awards are now very much part of the youth work sector landscape in Scotland. But apart from providing an excuse for a good night out and a very enjoyable social occasion for the sector, do these Awards serve any useful purpose? Do they matter? The answer to both questions, I believe, is a firm ‘yes’. Continue reading