Impact and Influence: Stats and Stories

Discover the transformative nature of youth work through the compelling combination of statistical data and powerful stories. Gain insights into building sector capacity, professional development, and understanding the importance of collective influence.

Youth workers are working tirelessly to improve the lives of young people across Scotland, often acting as the last line of defence in communities dealing with the lingering effects of Covid-19, an ongoing cost of living crisis and rising food insecurity. 

As an already perilous funding landscape continues to shrink, however, key decisions by funders and policymakers are increasingly based around one thing only: the ability to demonstrate impact.

Join us on 1 November 2023 to hear from leading experts from across the youth work, education and children’s sectors about how to demonstrate your impact and take part in engaging workshops delivered by most impactful youth work projects and organisations in Scotland.

Check out our programme.

Conference Presentation Slides

Download presentation slides from presenters at this year’s #YLSConf.

Chris Birt presents on stage at the national youth work conference

Workshop Slides

Download all of our workshop and seminar slides from this year’s #YLSConf.

Three people sitting at a table during a conference working on a group session


We’re delighted to welcome a fantastic array of speakers from the world of youth work, including former head of the First Minister’s Policy and Delivery Unit Chris Birt, and Director for the Centre of Academic Innovation Professor Momodou Sallah.

You’ll also have the opportunity to hear from our expert panel as they explore key issues around impact and data capture, including Louise Hayward, Professor Emerita of Educational Assessment and Innovation at University of Glasgow – who recently chaired the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment in Scotland. 

Don’t miss out on some incredible learning and development opportunities, with 15 engaging, interactive sessions to choose from in our morning and afternoon workshops. Find out more about our workshops.

Download programme

Key Speakers

Chris Birt

Associate Director for Scotland, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and former Head of the First Minister’s Policy and Delivery Unit.


Chris leads the Scotland team at JRF that works to find solutions to poverty in Scotland and amplify the voices of people experiencing poverty. He was formerly a government lawyer, working principally on NHS and social care law.

Graeme Dey

Minister for Higher Education, Further Education and Minister for Veterans.


Graeme’s responsibilities include the Young Person’s Guarantee, developing the young workforce, apprenticeships, youth employment and youth work.

Zaki El-Salahi

Lyricist, Performance Poet & Community Educator


Zaki’s work is rooted in rap, dub poetry, and the role of MC culture in grassroots Black British consciousness. Since 2005, Zaki has focussed on creating collaborative work and developing artist collectives in community centres and in the street, in children’s care homes, refugee centres and prison – both in Edinburgh and East Oxford.

Professor Momodou Sallah

Director, Centre for Academic Innovation and Professor of Teaching and Learning, De Montfort University


Winner of the “Most Innovative Teacher” in the UK by Times Higher in 2015, Mo has more than 25 years’ experience working with young people and communities at local, national and international levels; from being the Youth Director of Gambia Red Cross Society to a Senior Youth Worker at the Leicester City Council, UK.

Colin MacFarlane

National Programme Manager, YMCA Scotland


Colin has over two and a half decades of youth work experience, starting at Princes Trust in 1996 following a career as a professional footballer, before moving to YMCA Scotland. In his role as National Programme Manager Colin has supported the international growth of YMCA Scotland’s Plusone Mentoring programme in both Canada and Ireland while developing new programme activity in Scotland.

Panel Discussion

Take part in a lively discussion with our expert panel, all of whom come with impeccable public health and policy credentials.

Professor Louise Hayward
Professor of Educational Assessment and Innovation at the University of Glasgow and Head of the Scottish Government’s Independent Review into Qualifications and Assessment.
Jimmy Paul
Head of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit and former Director at the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland.

Scottish Youth Work Research Steering Group

Our second panel discussion of the day takes a deep dive into efforts to developing and improving the quality of youth work research.

Tim Leaman
Head of Partnerships, Centre for Youth Impact, George Williams College 
Dona Milne
Director of Public Health for NHS Lothian
Dr Ian Fyfe
Senior Fellow Higher Education Academy, University of Edinburgh
Dr Amy Calder Bubble Headshot
Dr Amy Calder
Senior Policy and Research Officer at YouthLink Scotland
Laurene Edgar
Director at Lothian Association of Youth Clubs

Workshops & Seminars

We have a huge range of exciting learning and development opportunities in our morning and afternoon workshops.

Choose from 15 engaging sessions harnessing the experience of the brightest minds of the youth work sector, with workshops from LGBT Youth Scotland, TD1 Youth Hub, Hot Chocolate Trust and Girlguiding Scotland. We also have Dumfries & Galloway Council’s workshop showcasing their National Youth Work Awards winning programme of Counselling in Schools.

Find out more about our #Conf23 workshops.

Awards Network
Dumfries & Galloway Council
Digital Youth Network
Elgin Youth Development Group
Glasgow Clyde College
NKBL - Imagine a Man
LGBT Youth Scotland
Scottish Youth Parliament
TD1 Youth Hub
West Dunbartonshire Council
Hot Chocolate Trust
Venture Scotland
Girlguiding Scotland
Youth Scotland Network
West Partnership Regional Improvement Collaborative