Meet the Finalists: Recognising Skills & Achievement

Bridges Project Education & Employability Service

Education & Employability Service (EES) at Bridges Project is dedicated to transforming the lives of disadvantaged young people aged 12-to-25 across East Lothian and Midlothian.  

With a person-centred approach that combines group opportunities and one-to-one support, EES tailors its programmes to individual needs, enabling young participants to secure accreditations, qualifications, and prestigious youth awards such as the Saltire Award and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.  

In 2023 alone, EES supported 253 young individuals, with 174 successfully moving into positive destinations. EES’s success is grounded in its open-ended, flexible support model, ensuring each young person receives a highly personalised intervention. The EES also gives young people the opportunity to receive support for as long as they need, ensuring that they remain in touch with EES until they are settled in a positive destination. 

This has made EES a preferred choice for many who were previously disengaged from school and other services – with 91% of those supported last year reporting increased confidence.  

One young person benefitting from the service said: “All the support I have received from the service will help me in the future and to become more independent.  

If I hadn’t received support from EES, I would still have been struggling with my confidence. I would have still been in the house. So, it has made a massive difference.” 

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Possibilities for Each and Every Kid (PEEK)

Possibilities for Each and Every Kid (PEEK)’s Young Volunteer programme has transformed the lives of hundreds of young Scots, providing a springboard to success through volunteering and accredited learning. 

In 2023, under the guidance of long-term employee Steph and team members Ryan and Carla, the project saw 40 new volunteers dedicate a remarkable 2,285 hours to support PEEK’s programmes. The initiative not only facilitated a range of accredited workshops including Child Protection, First Aid, and the Dynamic Youth Award, but also helped volunteers develop key soft skills such as confidence, teamwork and communication. 

The volume of achievements of the young volunteers speaks for itself, with 13 achieving an SCQF accredited Conflict Resolution award; 12 gaining an SCQF in Goal Setting, and 10 receiving their Working with Young People in Sport. Additionally, a Mental Health Festival organised by the volunteers with Youth Scotland funding became a highlight, promoting well-being and community support for local families. 

PEEK boasts a number of individual success stories, like one young person who, having previously dropped out of school, went on to complete 327 hours of volunteering – the highest number of hours recorded by any young volunteer. Another transitioned from volunteer to sessional staff member and pursued childcare at college, highlighting the project’s role in shaping futures. 

One young volunteer said: “I loved volunteering with PEEK as I got to help the people in my community, and it helped me create the person that I am today.” 

Through dedication, community engagement, and a focus on skill development, PEEK’s Young Volunteer project has proven to be a pivotal force in guiding young people towards positive educational and career paths, making it a deserving finalist in the Recognising Skills & Achievement category of the #YLSAwards. 

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Routes, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs

Routes is a groundbreaking service by Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, providing a lifeline for young people aged 12–to-26 in East and West Dunbartonshire impacted by family substance misuse.  

The programme addresses the often-overlooked stigma, poverty, and domestic instability young people can face, barriers that can hinder their educational and employment prospects. 

By offering tailored one-to-one sessions, group activities, and practical support, Routes cultivates a nurturing environment that combats isolation, builds confidence, and encourages aspirations. The programme’s longevity and commitment ensure a trust-based relationship, providing a steady hand as young people move towards positive futures. 

Routes acts not just as a safety net but as a catalyst for change, assisting in educational pursuits, employment readiness, and personal growth. The programme’s holistic approach includes vital collaboration with schools and pastoral care, ensuring that young people’s voices are heard and their needs met. 

Significant achievements include supporting 62 young people with further education, training and employment; aiding 37 in college applications and attendance; facilitating qualifications for eight young people through Dynamic Youth Awards; advocating for 28 care-experienced young people; and arranging employability training for 16.  

A testament to Routes’ transformative impact is the heartfelt gratitude expressed by young participants, acknowledging the programme as a crucial support system that has not only reshaped their lives for the better, but perhaps even saved lives along the way. 

One young participant spoke of their gratitude for Routes’ support: “I don’t think I have ever told you how much you have actually saved my life in so many ways, I wouldn’t have the job I have now if it wasn’t for you sticking to me and being like a parent I never had. You shaped my life into something I didn’t know could happen. This time last year I didn’t think I was going to make it through to this year.” 

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Twitter: @ScotFamADrugs