Sponsored by YMCA Scotland
This year’s finalists demonstrate the incredible power youth work has to bring people together and to celebrate our differences in the communities we share. By teaching values of compassion, respect and shared understanding, youth work helps to build a fairer, more inclusive future for all young Scots.
Ewan’s youth work journey with North Ayrshire Council began with its modern apprenticeship programme and has seen him complete his SVQ Level 3 in Youth Work and BA in CLD, right through to his current post as an accomplished Community Development Worker.
Ewan delivers two LGBTQI+ youth groups on providing the tools for young people to empower themselves within their communities and is also the lead practitioner for additional support needs youth work across the whole of North Ayrshire.
He also played an integral role in the formation of youth work and schools partnerships with local primary and secondary schools, setting up two early intervention groups and supporting young people to engage with alternative curriculum activities to secure young people positive outcomes.
Isla Dapre said: “Ewan is always perfectly prepared and ready to take on any challenge he or the group may face. He’s helped open up a lot of doors and opportunities like suggesting going to Youth Fest, where I’ve met some amazing friends.
“He has had a personal impact on my life too. He helped me be more myself around others and has aided me in growing my confidence by stepping out my comfort zone. He’s very funny so my comedy skills have been improved too!”
For young refugees dealing with the trauma of fleeing war and persecution, adapting to your new home and finding your sense of community can be an extremely challenging experience.
Enter North Ayrshire’s New Young Scots Team, which has played an integral role in promoting the value of youth work, supporting new young Scots to engage with opportunities in North Ayrshire and beyond.
Working with young women from Syria and Afghanistan, the team engages with families to ensure that provision is understood and supported, allowing the team to address any cultural issues that might become barriers to participation. This has led to the creation of several girls-only groups that are now thriving.
The incredible support that the team provides for new Scots young people was pivotal in the successful nomination of one young participant from Syria being the first refugee to become a MSYP. This success has been hugely beneficial for the whole Syrian community, providing engaging conversations around democratic processes and what that means as a new Scot in North Ayrshire.
One participant, Zaid, said: “I really enjoy the activities we do. It makes me very happy and excited to get new skills and new experiences. It is fun. It is better to get out and not sit at home. I learn new words and I feel very comfortable in the group.”
The youth work team at the M Factor have a transformative impact on the young people they support, enabling them to engage in educational and social activities in a safe, welcoming and fun environment.
The team supports and understands a range of additional support needs, including the autism, Williams, Downs, Dravet and developmental delay.
Consultation is a major part of the group’s success. Young people are supported to design their programme, plan activities and evaluate them going forward. Their empathetic and gentle approach ensures all participants can be empowered to take part in the process.
The M Factor believes nurturing long-term relationships and has three volunteers (and a staff member) that began as young people in the group. This cycle is crucial in ensuring that the group is properly heard, not ever just ticking a box.
Strong partnership bonds with Rutherglen High School and Glasgow Clyde College ensures participants have an added layer of support during transitions, and links to psychological and socila work services where necessary.
Participant Scott Mullin said: “I was 12 when I started coming here and I’m now 27 and volunteering. I feel more confident and more open minded by coming here and feel that I have learned all kinds of new skills.”