Meet the Finalists: Team of the Year

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Include Me 2 Club

Since 2009, Include Me 2 Club (IM2C) has provided a lifeline of support for individuals with additional support needs, disabilities, and mental health conditions in Glasgow, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire. 

For a small charity, Include Me 2 Club makes a huge impact – reaching over 1,200 members through its play, youth work, employability, volunteering and transitions programmes. 

The team’s dedication to creating bespoke solutions and creative approaches has facilitated meaningful transitions for young people from school to further education, employment, and entrepreneurship. Their achievements include launching and managing community facilities, delivering youth clubs, employability programmes, and securing over 126 awards and accreditations in the last year alone. 

IM2C excels in delivering tailored services that break down barriers and foster inclusion, with inclusion and involvement at the heart of all activities. From social enterprises like Social Blend Coffee Shops and Bike Hub to creative initiatives like the Ideas Academy, IM2C is not just about service provision; it’s about empowering individuals and their families to lead fulfilling lives. 

The ethos behind IM2C is clear: to ensure everyone they support can participate fully in life’s opportunities. This has led to the development of new clubs and fun activities where young people take the lead, demonstrating the charity’s success in making inclusion a reality. 

Recognised as a “Beacon for Change and Inspiration,” IM2C has changed lives by providing hope, understanding and, crucially, fun. Parents and families describe the charity’s impact as “life-changing,” highlighting the profound difference IM2C makes by fostering an environment where young people are not only included but celebrated. 

One young person who joined Include Me 2 Club as a 14-year-old and now manages projects and sits on the board said: “Include Me 2 Club is just phenomenal in their efforts and work to improve lives; I am living testament to that. 

“It’s been an amazing journey for me personally getting to experience the growth as a young person into leadership and empowering me through training, support but most importantly the opportunity and experience to try, to test and take risks as a leader.”

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OPEN Team, Shetland

Situated in the windswept beauty of Shetland, the OPEN Team in Shetland has created a supportive environment where young people don’t just grow, they thrive. By transitioning OPEN into the first youth-led charity on the island, the team continues to make waves to achieve their vision of creating a Shetland where young people feel connected, valued, and empowered. 

OPEN’s initiatives range from peer education workshops to “Da Cafe,” a youth café that provides a safe and welcoming space for young people. In 2022-23 alone, their peer education workshops reached over 1,500 pupils, proving that when young people lead, transformation follows. 

Emma Coutts, 16, spoke of the practical skills and confidence she has gained through involvement with OPEN since 2022: “I joined the peer research team and helped on the Alcohol and Other Drugs project. Through this I carried out my own research and got my PDC.” 

Nominated for Team of the Year, OPEN Team’s work demonstrates a practical and effective approach to youth work. Their activities are designed by and for young people, ensuring relevance and impact, meaning that OPEN not only offers immediate support but also equips young people with the tools to influence and lead in their community. 

Through OPEN, Shetland’s youth are not just preparing for the future; they’re shaping it.

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Thrive Team - Working4U, West Dunbartonshire Council

Working4U Thrive is a personal development programme in the heart of West Dunbartonshire, turning barriers into bridges. 

Tailored for 16-to-24 year olds facing significant barriers to education, employment, or training, its personal development programme works to address complex issues including homelessness, mental health and wellbeing, and generational unemployment.  

Through a blend of one-to-one engagement, group work, and volunteering over 13 weeks, Thrive empowers participants towards positive outcomes, boasting a 76% progression rate since April 2021. 

The programme not only enhances confidence but also awards participants with up to three certificates, marking many young people’s first academic achievements. Incorporating Hi5 awards, Saltire awards, and an SQA Personal Development Award, Thrive is committed to continuous improvement, evidenced by regular evaluations and adaptations based on participant feedback. 

Staff development is key, with team members becoming SQA assessors and contributing to sector knowledge through presentations at conferences. This commitment to excellence extends to partnership working within the community, enhancing service provision through collaborations with charities and Skills Development Scotland, ensuring comprehensive support for participants. 

The recent introduction of ‘Ready2Thrive’ addresses the needs of those requiring extended one-to-one support, demonstrating the programme’s adaptability to participant needs. This expansion reflects Working4U Thrive’s dedication to filling service gaps and supporting the most disadvantaged young people. 

At its heart, Thrive’s success lies in its ability to remove structural barriers, offering financial support and personalised youth work partnerships that foster self-belief and motivation. This holistic approach is why the programme’s effective in transforming lives, making Working4U Thrive a leader in youth personal development and engagement. 

Speaking of the programme, one young participant commented: “James and Eilish were both a big help with their support and encouragement. I can initiate conversations better and ask questions when I need to, and although I’m still working through my anxiety, I think I have achieved that bit of confidence I needed to push myself to do more than I thought I could.”

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