Fair is fair: we want equal pay for Scotland’s youngest workers

Receiving a fair wage for the work you do should be a given in a modern society, regardless of your gender, background or age. That principle of equality is what powers YouthLink Scotland and the youth work sector we represent, so becoming an Accredited Living Wage Employer did not require any debate.

We are indeed living in a significant moment in history, one which will determine our journey as a Scottish nation, our place in the United Kingdom and our part on the world stage. We have some stark choices to make with regard to the labour market and, linked to that, the health and wellbeing of the nation, and crucially our young people.

Considering our young people will be shaping our nation long after many of us are gone, we need to give them a foundation of equality so they can continue to build a vibrant society, one where everyone feels valued. Fundamental to this is equality of pay and of opportunity. As an employer, we strive not just to meet our legal requirements on pay, but to ensure we go beyond this where we can. We continue to assist young people in our workplace through various employment schemes like the Community Jobs Scotland programme, and to use our advocacy role with our membership to support all youth work organisations in their efforts to achieve that equality.

We believe, though, that more has to be done to end the age discrimination within the National Minimum Wage. If government is serious about valuing all young people then fair is fair, same work should mean same pay. Continue reading

National Youth Worker of the Year 2017 winners announced

Thirty-one outstanding youth workers and youth work projects were celebrated at last night’s National Youth Worker of the Year Awards at the Crowne Plaza, Glasgow, with ten winners crowned and another five long-serving youth workers inducted to our Lifetime Achievers community.

With increasing focus on the role youth workers play in closing Scotland’s attainment gap, it was only fitting that our highest honour – overall National Youth Worker of the Year – celebrated the success of Laura Campbell and YMCA Scotland. Laura picked up her first award of the night for Youth Worker Supporting Attainment. But the judging panel agreed wholeheartedly that her work improving the life chances of marginalised young people with Bellshill and Mossend YMCA deserved extra recognition.

Laura manages three youth work projects with YMCA, helping young people to make positive choices, reduce offending and raise attainment. In particular, her partnership work with Police Scotland and North Lanarkshire Social Work department on the Early and Effective Intervention (EEI) project has been praised as an example of youth work best practice in North Lanarkshire.

Meet our National Youth Worker of the Year winners for 2017

National Youth Worker of the Year

Laura Campbell, Bellshill and Mossend YMCA Continue reading

A youth worker’s journey: meet Natasha Kerr, Scotland’s Youth Worker of the Year 2016

With our 2017 National Youth Worker of the Year Awards just around the corner, we thought a trip down memory lane wouldn’t go amiss. Last year, youth worker Natasha Kerr took our top honour for more than 800 hours dedicated to mentoring 200 young athletes in Ayrshire. Today, Ayrshire College lecturer John McTaggart explores what brought Natasha to youth work.
natasha-kerr-1In my 20 years as a college lecturer, I have had the privilege of engaging with many thousands of young people who have come into further education with dreams, hopes and aspirations of creating a better future for themselves.

In order for people to achieve their dreams, we must create opportunities and develop a supportive environment that will help these young people to go forward with hope and without fear of failure. Further education is an opportunity for many who have had negative experiences prior to coming to college. Everyone has a story, everyone has a journey, but for one student this journey has been immense. I would argue that no learner in the country has travelled further or had a greater impact on their local community than Natasha Kerr.

Four years ago Natasha came to Ayrshire College as a shy and introverted student with severe confidence issues. The progression she’s made since then has been remarkable. Although Natasha is still working on her confidence issues, the amount of voluntary work she has undertaken, allied with 100% attendance in her four years at college, is indicative of her dedication and commitment. Her transformation from introverted student to pillar of the Ayrshire sport and fitness community is nothing short of remarkable. Since joining the college, she has dedicated her life to working within the community on a daily basis to provide a positive impact for young people. Continue reading

Youth workers don’t work alone: celebrating arts and partnership at the National Youth Worker of the Year Awards

An innovative project by Citadel Youth Centre and celebrity chef Tom Kitchin has been shortlisted for Scottish Youth Work Partnership of the Year at our National Youth Worker of the Year Awards. Supper at the Citadel is a partnership project between the youth centre and The Kitchin in Leith. Through a series of cooking classes at the restaurant youngsters learned culinary skills, as well as vital life skills such as planning and team-work.

tomkichenFor Tom Kitchin, the experience was rewarding and humbling:

“For me, it is really important that I support the local community. I am really passionate about kids and youth and trying to get people to do something with food and enjoy food. I am very blessed this restaurant has given us an incredible world that we are in now. But just across the road, there’s another world and it is important we don’t forget that.”

Glasgow Kelvin College has also been nominated for Partnership of the Year. The college is being celebrated for its unique approach, using an army of youth workers to deliver great results for young people. Continue reading

Smoking is a real drag on young people’s life chances

With National No Smoking Day just around the corner, Emma Papakyriakou from ASH Scotland and Colin Lumsdaine from NHS Lothian tell us why youth work needs to help young people think twice about lighting up a cigarette.

no-smoking-day-banner_bLet’s forget for a second that smoking is an addictive killer. Put that aside for now and let’s talk about cold, hard cash.

Money makes the world go around. This is particularly true for young people, and especially those without too much money to play with. For this group, the health impacts of smoking may seem a distant concern but the financial costs hit immediately – and keep stacking up.

Smoking is expensive, costing the average smoker in Scotland £1,600 a year. That’s a car or a summer holiday. For a couple getting married at age 30, it could be the deposit on a flat. In the here and now, it’s the difference between eating well or not, having a hobby or simply being able to engage in social life. Continue reading