Meet the finalists: Volunteer Youth Worker

Sponsored by Young Scot

Did you know that youth work volunteers across Scotland give 13 million hours of their time each year.  These finalists are creating opportunities for young people to realise their potential and supporting their achievements.

Volunteer youth worker finalist

Rowan Daly (Clydebank Sea Cadets)

“Given that we are located where pessimism for the future is not uncommon, and that 80% of our cadets meet the Sea Cadet’s definition of disadvantaged, his contribution is precious.” The words of Rowan Daly’s nominator speak volumes of the impact Rowan has through his holistic youth work approach.

Kind, attentive and full of encouragement, Rowan champions youth advocacy through his Cadet Voice initiative and has been dubbed quite the pioneer. As the training officer, he not only delivers the nautical syllabus but also excels in focusing on personal and social development, setting him apart.

His work reflects outstanding practice through his unrivalled commitment – and above all, he makes a remarkable difference to young people’s lives. His success is proved by the growing waiting list of parents wishing to enrol their child in the Sea Cadets.

An extraordinary milestone in his journey was his involvement in the Sea Cadets’ participation in London Pride 2022. His support for the event was met with cheers from the cadets and volunteers. His courage in overcoming personal challenges has served as a powerful inspiration and has helped the cadets face their own barriers.

He has become a role model for all, particularly the young men he works with. In an area where traditional notions of a man still persist, he exemplifies positive masculinity, breaking stereotypes and encouraging young men to embrace a broader understanding of what it means to be a man.

Jim McColm (Who Cares? Scotland)

Jim is a dedicated volunteer youth worker with Who Cares? Scotland. He has made a lasting impression on the lives of the young people he supports. With hundreds of volunteer hours under his belt, Jim is a youth worker who loves what he does.

Inspired by the Moray Better Meetings project, which aims to improve outcomes within the Children’s Hearings System, Jim joined as a volunteer to support young people to influence positive change. Having experienced the care system himself, he really understands the challenges they face and strives to be a role model and advocate for their needs.

His ability to connect with young people is exceptional. They are drawn to his humour and genuine passion for their wellbeing. He goes above and beyond by providing support in finding employment and offering valuable career advice based on his own experiences. Recognising the unique challenges faced by care experienced young people, Jim strives to be their champion and supporter, just as someone took a chance on him early in his life.

His commitment extends beyond mentorship, as he has secured real work experiences for young people by partnering with local businesses.

The project at Johnstons of Elgin has given young people invaluable insights into the world of work, giving them important skills and confidence, which has seen many go on to employment, training and a brighter future.

Jim’s selflessness, work ethic, and genuine desire to improve the lives of care experienced young people has had a profound impact on the lives of so many.

Margaret Halkett (The BIG Project)

Despite approaching her 70th birthday, volunteer Margaret shows no signs of slowing down.

Her journey began 13 years ago volunteering in the Children’s Activity Club, and she quickly expanded her role to include the Youth Club.

Margaret’s self-taught expertise and understanding of developmental stages means she is able to provide the perfect level of challenge for young people, allowing them to learn new skills and have fun.

Margaret’s generosity extends to making small Christmas presents for each child, young person, and colleagues, fostering a sense of belonging. She also volunteers to cover staff and one-off events, also dedicating entire days to preparing young people to get involved in music performances. participation in high-profile music performances.

“When I left school, I began as a youth volunteer in the BIG Project Drama Group and I am still doing this every week. My experience of the difference Margaret can make to young people’s lives is one of the main reasons I wanted to do this. I am now studying at Heriot Watt University where I am a student ambassador and again this choice was influenced by the very positive experience I gained from participating in activities and discussions with Margaret.

“It’s hard to express our gratitude adequately Margaret, but on behalf of the young people at BIG Project, thank you for your time, support, guidance, and presence, and long may it continue!” Jake Douglas