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).
This 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? Over the course of a one-hour ’walking meeting’ with Sarah, our Public Affairs, Media and Communications Officer, on a spectacular autumn day we decided the way forward would be to bring the stories and voices of the young people to Holyrood. And so the My Journey through CashBack postcard exhibition was born. The CashBack projects have been supported to create postcards which capture the essence of their work and each postcard includes a message from a young person summarising their CashBack journey. These will be exhibited in the Garden Lobby at the Scottish Parliament on 28 February. MSPs have been invited to travel with young people from across Scotland and be guided by them through their interactive postcard exhibition. They will walk 500 miles in five minutes, from Shetland to Dumfries, and hear from the young people about their achievements through youth work.
There will be a few other differences between the CashBack celebrations and the Oscars. Limos are likely to be replaced by minibuses, and the after party is likely to be held in the nearest fast food takeaway! There will be to no golden statuettes to hand out but there will be lots of golden chat. And while we won’t be handing out $230,000 celebrity gift bags, you might be lucky enough to get a stick of CashBack rock on your travels!
Gillian Lithgow is Development Manager for National Programmes at YouthLink Scotland. She looks after the CashBack For Communities Facilities, Youth Work and Open Arts Fund.