Meet the Finalists: Inspirational Leader

Sponsored by Scottish Police Federation

Barry Dougall, Kinross-shire Youth Enterprise

Leading KYTHE’s youth work offer since 2017, Barry Dougall has been instrumental in transforming youth work in Kinross-shire, significantly increasing the numbers of young people KYTHE supports during his tenure.  

Barry orchestrated KYTHE’s integration to the Dynamic Youth Work Partnership – a truly innovative regional youth work model funded by Gannochy Trust and Perth & Kinross Council, unifying targeted local authority youth work provision with universal providers across the council area. 

Barry’s strategic use of data and evaluation has not only evidenced the transformation in young lives but also secured vital funding, ensuring the sustainability and growth of youth work in the area. His foresight in establishing a Youth Hub in Kinross and spearheading the popup youth work service ‘Mobile KYTHE’ has bridged gaps in rural youth services, overcoming transportation barriers and enhancing community engagement. 

 His dedication to professional development has inspired volunteers to pursue youth work training, while his commitment to reflective practice has created a culture of continuous improvement within KYTHE.  

 Barry’s leadership has led to KYTHE now supporting 400 young people and growing from 2,207 youth work activities in 2021 to 6,350 in 2023. How’s that for impact? 

 He continues to leave a lifelong impression on the young people he works with, with one young person saying: ““Barry was just there for me, always. No matter what it was that I was going through there was someone who cared and someone who would listen to me.” 

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Maxine Garson, Highland Council

Described as “a force of nature” by colleagues, Maxine Garson is the visionary behind Highland Council’s My Future, My Success (MFMS) project. Recognising the vulnerabilities, rurality, and poverty causing many young people in the Scottish Highlands to “fall through the cracks,” Maxine simply rolled up her sleeves and got to work.  

She crafted a strategy to not only identify systemic issues impacting young people but to create a tangible solution, rallying support from leaders and the Council to form a dedicated team. This initiative now reaches every community in the Highland region, embodying Maxine’s unique blend of systemic understanding and action-oriented leadership. 

Her approach to leadership is one of balance between support and challenge, driving her team to venture into new territories within a tight timeframe while ensuring quality and support. Through regular tactical and developmental meetings, Maxine makes sure there is a culture of growth, reflection, and adaptation, allowing the programme to evolve based on stakeholder feedback and ensuring no young person is left behind, even when external support and funding wanes. 

 Since its fast start in August 2022 the MFMS programme has supported 640 young people. Of them, 187 have left school with 94.7% progressing to a positive destination.  

 Maxine champions excellence in youth work delivery, emphasising safeguarding, tailored learning opportunities, and continuous team development. Her leadership encourages innovation and resilience, overcoming limitations to ensure young people’s needs are met.  

 As a result, MFMS has become a unifying force in the Highland region, drawing together practitioners and employers in support of young individuals. Despite challenges like funding uncertainty and varying team needs, Maxine’s proactive and tenacious leadership ensures the programme not only succeeds but thrives, making a lasting impact on both individuals and the broader community. 

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Willy Barr, Citadel Youth Centre

Ask young people in the Leith area of Edinburgh and they’ll tell you that Willie Barr is a legend in his own lifetime. The Citadel Youth Centre’s manager for over 20 years, Willie is now a leading voice not only of Edinburgh’s, but Scotland’s youth work sector. 

Under his guidance, the Citadel underwent redevelopment and transitioned to a SCIO listed organisation. Willy’s advocacy expanded the centre’s reach, earning accolades for Intergeneratioinnnal Practice and Family Support Work, also striking up flourishing youth work and schools partnerships with Trinity, Wardie and Victoria. 

From exclusive culinary events with Michelin-starred Chef Tom Kitchin, empowering young people cooking and in front of house roles, to pioneering fundraising models like Friends of the Citadel, Willy relentlessly advances the Citadel’s work while staying true to youth work principles.   

What’s more, Willy’s dedication to nurturing a positive and productive work environment has built workforce capacity, team morale, and overall performance. He is ardent about ensuring continuous learning and growth within the team, consistently motivating staff to explore opportunities for development, including courses, training, and broader experiences such as international study visits. 

 Willy’s ability to recognise the changing needs of the community highlights his adaptability as a leader. Through self-reflective practice and listening to the needs of the community, the Citadel’s services have moved beyond young people, embracing the entire community – from young mums with toddlers to the older generation of Leithers. Crucially, these inclusive changes have arisen from listening to the genuine needs expressed by the community.   

 A dedicated community connector, with strong social justice values and a gift of the gab, Willie has been instrumental in unifying the Leith community – renowned for its enduring motto of “Persevere”. 

One thing’s for sure, Willie’s perseverance at the Citadel over the years has undoubtedly brought more than just a ray of sunshine on Leith. 

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