What does it take to be nominated for a National Youth Worker of the Year Award?

Team work. Inspirational leadership. Advocacy.

Together, youth workers are changing lives for 400,000 young people in Scotland. Delivering innovative projects in teams and in partnership, leading best practice, championing our work – and encouraging those outside of youth work to do so too. Together, youth work is strong.

So today. we’re introducing you to seven people and teams who are spreading the youth work good word across Scotland.

airdrie-youth-work-teamAirdrie Youth Work Team, based at the town’s @home Youth Centre, are our first nomination for Team of the Year. With a focus on inclusion, equalities and diversity, the team works with vulnerable young people, including young carers, those at risk of anti-social or criminal behaviour, LGBT teens and young parents, to provide support tailored to each individual young person. They’ve successfully worked together with local partners to develop a range of opportunities for young people with additional needs, helping them to get involved in local youth work programmes like Shout Youth Forum and Duke of Edinburgh Award to build key life and work skills. We don’t think we could put it better any better than Gerry, aged 22:

“I would never been able to stick at my work without attending the @home centre.  I now have the confidence and willpower to create a bright future.  Taking part in DofE has been phenomenal, it has helped me to see what I am capable of achieving when I actually try.  I found passion in outdoor activities and I am building a career in working outdoors.”

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Celebrating volunteering and attainment at the National Youth Worker of the Year Awards

With just three weeks to go until our National Youth Worker of the Year Awards, our tenth anniversary is shaping up to be a real celebration of the crucial work being done by Scotland’s 80,000 youth workers, paid and voluntary. And today, we’re delighted to introduce you to six more finalists for our Volunteer and Supporting Attainment awards.

gail-foxDid you know that volunteer youth workers clock up a staggering 13 million volunteer hours every year? It’s no surprise then that the task of choosing just three finalists for our Volunteer Youth Worker of the Year felt a little… daunting. But choose we did and all of our nominees have gone above and beyond to serve the young people in their local communities.

“She is an amazing person and always thinks about everybody before herself. She has taught me skills I probably wouldn’t know if it wasn’t for her. You can always have a laugh or a cry because she just understands, she is more than just a leader, she’s like family.”

So says Millie, aged 12. She thinks Gail Fox, County Commissioner for Girlguiding Tweed Valley, is just fab. Gail holds a number of volunteer roles in the area, from Unit Leader with Tweedbank Guides to the regional co-ordination and training of Girlguiding in the Borders. For all her hard work with local Rainbows, Brownies and Guides, we’re thrilled to have her as a finalist. Continue reading

My journey through CashBack

February 2017 is a month for recognising and celebrating achievement. There’s the BAFTAs, the Oscars, the Grammy Awards, the Brit Awards and more.  Behind the glitz and glamour the message is clear: “Life should not only be lived it should be celebrated” (Osho).

dalkeith-midlothian-councilThis month, we also pause to celebrate the amazing youth work that has been delivered across Scotland as a result of an investment from the CashBack for Communities Youth Work Fund. No venue big enough, no red carpet long enough to accommodate the real stars of this youth work, with 212 projects and more than 36,000 young people actively involved in their local communities.

In an age where everything we do is measured and evaluated to the nth degree, where the ‘so what?’ question is thrown about like confetti, I’m in no doubt that the most powerful measure of success is the voice of young people themselves.

So how do we begin to capture and celebrate the success of these shining stars? Continue reading

Meet our Full-Time and Part-Time Youth Worker finalists

Last week we announced 26 amazing finalists for the National Youth Worker of the Year Awards 2017. With nearly 400,000 young people benefiting from youth work every year, the Awards reflect your impact on young people’s increased life chances, personal development and well-being.

So who better to introduce you to our Full-Time and Part-Time finalists than the young people who have experienced first-hand how youth work changes lives? Read on for six inspiring stories of youth work across Scotland…

Making a difference to Arran’s young people has resulted in two of the island’s youth workers being shortlisted. Graeme Johnston and Hollie Watson, both from Arran Youth Foundations, have been nominated for a Full-Time and Part-Time Youth Worker of the Year Award respectively. The pair are involved in a variety of youth projects across the island – Graeme even sails back and forth from the mainland five days a week! But he hasn’t let geography get in the way, making sure Arran’s youngsters get the rare chance to use restaurant kitchens, to learn wood-carving with a local world-renowned artist and to benefit from one of only three IT Peer Education Youth Hubs in Scotland. Hollie, on the other hand, set up a partnership with social services to provide support for vulnerable young people on the island. Continue reading

National Youth Worker of the Year finalists announced

We’re absolutely thrilled to share our finalists for the 2017 National Youth Worker of the Year Awards with you today. With 26 finalists across 11 categories, our tenth anniversary is a real celebration of the crucial work being done by Scotland’s 80,000 youth workers, paid and voluntary.

With nearly 400,000 young people benefiting from youth work every year, the Awards reflect your impact on young people’s increased life chances, personal development and well-being.

We’ll be announcing the winners at our National Youth Worker of the Year Awards Dinner on 16 March 2017 at the Crowne Plaza, Glasgow. Keep your eyes on #YLSawards17 for updates, or better still book your place at this year’s Awards Dinner here. Continue reading

What does youth work have to do with feminism?

Scotswummin researcher Lisa Gallacher explores what the women’s movement of the 1970s has done for youth work today.

What does youth work have to do with feminism? At first glance, they don’t seem much related but when you really stop to think about what youth work is and what feminism is, it becomes clear that the two are interlinked and have been historically.

Broadly speaking, a big part of youth work is about developing young people and encouraging them to question the values, attitudes and behaviours they have grown up with. It’s also about increasing confidence and self-worth, which are too often lacking in girls and young women. Feminism is, and always has been, about raising awareness, advocating for equality and improving the lives of girls and women. Most importantly, women meeting in women-only groups to share their experiences and raise their consciousness were a hallmark of the women’s movement in the 1970s.


These practices were adopted by feminist youth workers as a template for youth work with girls. In many ways, feminist youth work in the 1970s and 1980s was directly influenced by what was happening in the women’s movement.

Whichever point in history you look at, providing youth services which meet the needs of girls and young women in an ever-changing society is really important.

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