Meet the finalists: Recognising Skills and Achievement

Sponsored by Skills Development Scotland

Youth workers are part of education. They help young people to develop the knowledge, achievement and skills to reach their potential in learning, life and work, and face the future with confidence.


Recognising Skills & Achievement finalists

PEEK (Possibilities for Each and Every Kid)

It’s a shocking statistic, one in three children and young people in Glasgow are living in poverty. For youth project PEEK almost 100% of the young people they work with are battling the barriers of poverty. Among many of these barriers is education, with many young people struggling to engage or attend school.

This is where PEEK’s Thrive programme has stepped in and stepped up. The project uses a solid youth work approach to support young people to gain the skills and confidence to volunteer, to find a job, go back into education or training.

It’s an initial 10-week programme with a focus on volunteering for young people aged 14-to-19, with training that includes: child protection; first aid; communication; timekeeping; employability skills and conflict resolution. There is an opportunity to work towards a Youth Achievement Award and a range of SALTIRE Awards.

There are no formal classrooms, just a partnership between young person and youth worker, and a space where they can develop and learn about themselves at their own pace with no fixed expectations.

Once the course is finished young people have the chance to volunteer across PEEK’s many programmes, and this is the first step towards employment, taking on a training course or deciding to go back to school.

The impact stats speak for themselves. Over the last 10 years:

Evolve Project (Renfrewshire Council)

To change, to grow, Renfrewshire Council’s Evolve Project is a personal and social development programme with a focus on health and wellbeing and empowering young people to lead on their own learning.

It’s a unique project that brings together teachers and youth workers, giving holistic support to those pupils who are struggling with formal learning.

As its name suggests, the project is constantly adapting to meet the needs of their children and young people. They run multiple groups, from the ‘Through Care’ initiative, which is supporting young New Scots to settle into their community, to secondary school pupils who are not attending classes.

Young people work together to identify issues in their community they would like to positively change and share ideas. The programme is co-designed with young people and flexible to suit their needs. Funding has allowed the space and time for the partnership between West Primary, Castlehead High School and the youth work team to come together and plan, buy creative resources and really invest in relationships.

Feedback from young people has provided a really rich bank of evidence, charting their journeys, development and changing views about themselves and the world around them. Young people have increased their attendance in school, and many have achieved Youth Achievement Awards, Hi5s and enrolled in DofE.

Craig Burns (North Ayrshire Council)

You could describe Craig Burns as a trailblazer, and we certainly think he is.

In a remarkable transformation over the past four years, Craig has become the driving force in growing North Ayrshire’s Modern Apprenticeship Youth Work Programme, putting youth work and the aspirations of young people at its heart.

As a result, the number of MAs successfully completing their qualifications has doubled since Craig took the helm, making the programme a well-known and sought after opportunity for those about to leave school.

Craig exemplifies the commitment required to make a positive impact in the lives of young people. Beyond being their ‘boss’, Craig has become a friend and confidant to many, and a compassionate listener and problem solver.

As the only registered centre for youth work in Scotland, it goes beyond delivering a qualification. It equips young people with the confidence, training, and skills necessary to become impactful practitioners who will shape the future of youth work. Craig’s unique ‘grow your own’ approach really nurtures talent like no other, which is clear from the number of past and present MAs who continue to work within the sector.

Joshua Scott, who completed his apprenticeship recently, said: “Throughout my experience in my apprenticeship, my boss Craig has made one of the biggest impacts on my personal and professional life, not only has he pushed to be the best youth worker I can, but he pushed me to bring out the best version of myself and helped me go from starting as a boy to leaving this job as a man.”