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.”

jennifer-laffertyNorth Lanarkshire also has its fair share of Youth Work Champions this year. Social worker Jennifer Lafferty works with Community Alternatives across the council, delivering an intensive social work resource for young people at risk of being placed in residential care. She’s been praised for her youth work approach which helps vulnerable local youngsters to find a better path in life. Liz Fergus, Youth Work Manager for North Lanarkshire Council, nominated Jennifer for her enthusiasm and energy. She’s motivated not only the youngsters she works with, but the whole social work team:

“She has developed the team to become more community minded, forging partnerships with other services which has increased young people’s opportunities and knowledge of active citizenship. Given the nature of the work, most young people have experienced trauma and attachment issues which means they don’t believe in they are capable of achieving in life. She has motivated staff and young people to be involved in community youth work services and gain achievements through the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, this has had a positive impact on their lives, with 23 young people gaining their DofE Awards, which has increased their confidence and self worth.”

Walter Smith of The Prince’s Trust Scotland has also been put forward as Scotland’s Youth Work Champion of 2017. Since leaving IBM in 2008, Walter has volunteered with the Trust and is a true champion of young entrepreneurs not only in Ayrshire but right across the country. In his role with the Trust’s Enterprise Programme, he’s mentored more than 100 young people while offering support in the launch of 100 new businesses. His involvement in local business start-ups has helped create employment for more than 1,000 people. Helen Keenan, Head of Volunteering with The Prince’s Trust Scotland said:

“If I could have just one Walter in every area we work – I’d be out of a job!”

From one side of the country to the other… Reducing anti-social behaviour and crime is a key target for PY Face North, part of Pilton Youth and Children’s Project in Edinburgh. They’ve been shortlisted as Team of the Year for their work with young people involved in youth crime.

The Face North team offer group and one-to-one mentoring as well as family support. The team helps youngsters tackle issues around offending behaviour, risk-taking and relationship building, using youth work to involve young people in employability and learning programmes. Overall crime among the participants reduced by 62% last year. Tjay, aged 17, made big life changes after working with Face North:

“When I have been in trouble in the past they are there to help you out and still help my mates out even when they have nowhere to go or deal with police stuff.  I don’t get into trouble now ‘coz they’ve got me into college and I’ve now got a job so I saved up money and bought a legit bike instead of choring them.”

jill-elborn-girlguiding-glasgowOur final category celebrates youth work leaders, those who have lead and inspired their teams during change or challenging circumstances. Jill Elborn, County Commissioner for Girlguiding Glasgow, is up for Inspirational Leader of the Year for her role in providing opportunities for girls and young women to be inspired and empowered within their communities.

As lead volunteer for the Glasgow area, Jill is responsible for helping 3,000 members to enjoy new experiences, gain new skills, make a difference and have fun. She has been passionate about guiding since joining Rainbows at five years old and works tirelessly to ensure that girls in Glasgow can benefit from being part of Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and The Senior Section. Jill has brought a wealth of experience to the role, which she carries out alongside her full-time job with Glasgow Life, where she was responsible for bringing the World Gymnastics Championships to the city.

Carol Edwards, Deputy Chief Commissioner for Girlguiding Scotland, believes that Jill’s enthusiasm and dedication has helped to inspire a new generation of girls and young women to discover their own leadership potential:

“Although Jill is in charge of the smooth running of the organisation, at her heart she remains a leader of girls and young women. She is a fantastic role model, dedicated to giving girls the skills and confidence to reach their full potential. Her leadership has inspired many young members to go onto become Unit Leaders themselves.”

gillian-caldwellAlso vying for the title of Inspirational Leader of the Year is Gillian Caldwell, Scouts Scotland’s Scottish Headquarters Commissioner (Adult Training). Graham Haddock, Chief Commissioner for Scotland believes she is a truly inspirational leader and deserves to be recognised for the contribution she’s made to the future of Scouting:

“Her dedication to our movement and its members, both adults and young people, over many years has been exemplary. She has inspired generations of young people and motivated and trained many hundreds of adults to enable them to deliver quality Scouting to our members. She is truly deserving of the recognition that being a finalist in the Inspirational Leadership Award brings.”

angela-morrellOur final Inspirational Leader nominee has been making a difference to Irvine’s young people. Angela Morrell is team leader for North Ayrshire Council’s Youth Participation and Empowerment Team. She currently leads a team of 42 staff including youth workers, modern apprentices and active school co-ordinators, and also manages over 80 sessional staff. The team work with 11- to 25-year olds providing a range of informal learning in schools and the community. Her leadership has ensured that North Ayrshire continues to lead the way in providing great programmes for local young people. Their recent achievements have included involving 5,000 youngsters in the council’s budget process.

Her colleague Donna praised Angela’s tireless dedication:

“We feel she deserves to be recognised for the sheer volume of people, projects and initiatives she has supported and led. She has raised the profile of youth services within North Ayrshire, through her style of leadership she has created many opportunities for staff and young people to develop both personally and professionally.”

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. And of course, thank you to CLD Standards Council Scotland and DofE Scotland for sponsoring our Awards. We couldn’t celebrate these outstanding achievements without your continued support.

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