Our incredible #YLSAwards winners!

A huge congratulations to our stellar cast of National Youth Work Awards winners, who lit up a raucous night of celebrating the very best of youth work in Scotland.

Group photo on stage of all the national youth work awards winners.

After much anticipation, the National Youth Work Awards 2023 was finally upon us, and what an incredible night it was! With faces new and old descending on Glasgow from Dumfries to Broadford, Dingwall to Barra, we celebrated the very best of youth work in an evening of glitz and glamour. 

We would like to say a massive thanks to our category sponsors: YMCA Scotland, Young Scot, Sky, No Knives Better Lives, CLD Standards Council for Scotland, Primate, Scottish Community Safety Network, Skills Development Scotland, Creative Scotland, Education Scotland, and BBC Children in Need.

Your unwavering support for Scotland’s youth workers is greatly appreciated, and we value your contribution to our National Awards. 

A special credit goes to Mollie McGoran MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, who is such a compelling advocate for all things youth work. And to our host, BBC Presenter, the wonderful Gemma Cairney. 

Congratulations to all our winners and finalists, who are all showcasing the powerful impact of youth work.  

The event itself may be over but let’s continue to share, tweet, and celebrate the #YLSAwards, as this event serves as an ongoing source of inspiration.  

Now, without further ado, let’s meet the winners of the 2023 #YLSAwards! 

Arts & Creativity

Anna and Holly from Lyra Arts show off their Arts & Creativity trophy at the national youth work awards.
Lyra’s Young Artists Programme

Sponsored by Creative Scotland

Winner: Lyra’s Young Artists Programme  

Situated in Craigmillar, Lyra addresses the profound challenges of poverty, racial inequality, and social disparities faced by young people in the vibrant yet challenging area of Edinburgh. The programme unites young artists with arts professionals from Scotland and around the world, working together on world-class projects and productions tailored to young people’s needs with a whole family approach.  


Read more: Arts & Creativity | #YLSAwards

Community-Based Youth Work

Group shot of TD1 Youth Hub after winning their national youth work award.
TD1 Youth Hub

Sponsored by Education Scotland and the Scottish Community Safety Network

Winner: TD1 Youth Hub  

Recognising the importance of being responsive to local issues and adapting to changing needs, TD1 Youth Hub has stepped up to address the cost-of-living crisis. They have provided 3,000 meals to young people and have partnered with Galashiels Academy to engage directly with 70% of school students impacted by poverty and financial deprivation.  


Read more: Community-based Youth Work | #YLSAwards

Digital & STEM

Press shot of Digital & STEM winners at the National Youth Work Awards showing off their trophy.
Where’s Your Head At? Peer Education (Youth Highland)

Sponsored by Sky

Winner: Where’s Your Head At? Peer Education (Youth Highland) 

The ‘Where’s Your Head At? Peer Education’ project, created by Youth Highland, explores topics such as risk and consequences within the context of LGBTI+ issues, cyber resilience, and substance abuse. In response, the young people developed a living digital platform in the form of a role-playing game. This innovative approach created a safe space for players to provide support, share lived experiences, and collectively advocate for change. 


Read more: Digital & STEM | #YLS Awards

Environment & Conservation

Western Isles Youth Climate Group show off their Environment and Conservation trophy at the National Youth Work Awards.
Western Isles Youth Action Climate Group

Sponsored by YouthLink Scotland

Winner: Western Isles Youth Action Climate Group 

This remarkable group of young climate activists are making a significant impact by addressing pressing environmental issues. The group has actively engaged with local councillors, MPs, MSPs, as well as Western Isles Council. They have discussed pressing climate issues like single-use plastics, microplastics, fishing nets, marine life, the decline of local bumblebees, and fast fashion, ensuring their concerns are heard by those in positions of authority. 


Read more: Environment & Conservation | #YLSAwards

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Equality & Diversity awards winners press shot at the national youth work awards. Two women hold the trophy, smiling.
North Ayrshire Council CLD New Scots Team

Sponsored by YMCA Scotland

Winner: North Ayrshire Council CLD New Scots Team  

The team has played a pivotal role in supporting young refugees to settle into their new home, providing essential guidance and fostering a sense of community. Their efforts have resulted in the establishment of thriving girls-only groups and empowering conversations about democratic processes for the Syrian community. The team’s dedication and passion for creating a positive experience for new Scots young people in North Ayrshire have earned them this well-deserved award. 


Read more: Equality & Diversity | #YLSAwards

Health & Wellbeing

Group shot of awards winners at the national youth work awards. One man in a wheelchair at the front of the photo holds the trophy.
Low Level Mental Health Support in Schools (Dumfries and Galloway Council)

Sponsored by BBC Children in Need

Winner: Low Level Mental Health Support in Schools (Dumfries and Galloway Council) 

The Youth Information in Schools Project delivers crucial low-level mental health support to over 500 young people annually. This ground breaking programme equips young people with strategies to navigate the challenges they face in their lives. The project brings together youth work, educational psychology, CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), school nursing, and psychology. 


Read more: Health & Wellbeing | #YLSAwards

Inclusion and Prevention

PEEK youth work team hold their Inclusion & Prevention trophy at the national youth work awards. Press shot.
PEEK, Govan High School and Police Scotland

Sponsored by No Knives Better Lives

Winner: PEEK, Govan High School and Police Scotland  

Last year PEEK partnered with Govan High School on an intervention project targeting young people who were disengaged from school and were already known to Police Scotland. The positive impact of the project was remarkable. By the end of the programme, police interventions with young people decreased by 82%, school incidents reduced by 75%, and participation in after-school clubs increased by 55%.  


Read more: Inclusion & Prevention | #YLS Awards

Inspirational Leader

Helene Rodgers celebrates her national youth work awards winner
Helene Rodger (Passion4Fusion)

Sponsored by Primate

Winner: Helene Rodger (Passion4Fusion)  

Recognising the lack of sufficient mental health and well-being support for black and minority ethnic young people and families, Helene and a group of multicultural volunteers launched Passion4Fusion as an informal community initiative. Overcoming initial challenges, Helene and her team worked to meet the diverse needs of ethnic minority communities, particularly young people and women in Edinburgh and the Lothians. 


Read more: Inspirational Leader | #YLSAwards

Participation & Youth Voice

The Trans Rights Youth Commission poses with their Youth Voice award at the national youth work awards
Trans Rights Youth Commission (LGBT Youth Scotland)

Sponsored by YouthLink Scotland

Winner: Trans Rights Youth Commission (LGBT Youth Scotland) 

The Trans Rights Youth Commission is an outstanding piece of participatory youth work that took young people’s voices to the highest levels within the Scottish Parliament to inform the reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).  

Young people’s views were core to this legislation reform. A challenge at times, working within a climate of controversy, but one that the youth commissioners and youth workers rose to, often against all odds.  


Read more: Participation & Youth Voice | #YLSAwards

Recognising Skills and Achievement

Craig Burns wins a national youth work award for recognising skills and achievements
Craig Burns (North Ayrshire Council)

Sponsored by Skills Development Scotland

Winner: Craig Burns (North Ayrshire Council)  

Craig Brown, a driving force in North Ayrshire’s youth work sector, has successfully led the growth of the Modern Apprenticeship Youth Work Programme. With his support, the programme has doubled the number of apprentices who achieve their qualifications, making it a sought-after opportunity for young people transitioning from school. His unique approach to nurturing talent has contributed to the programme’s success and the positive impact it has on the youth work sector. 


Read more: Recognising Skills and Achievement | #YLSAwards

Team of the Year

National Youth Work Awards winners Deaf Action pose with their Team of the Year trophy
Deaf Action Youth Club

Sponsored by CLD Standards Council for Scotland

Winner: Deaf Action Youth Club 

The dedicated team in Scotland are making a remarkable impact on deaf young people’s lives. The team includes Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) professionals who are empowering deaf young people to become young leaders. These leaders actively shape the programme, providing diverse role models, and promote the range of deaf identities. The team members, with varying levels of hearing loss and language needs, serve as positive role models, sharing their experiences of growing up deaf in Scotland. 


Read more: Team of the Year | #YLSAwards

Volunteer Youth Worker

Volunteer youth worker of the year Jim McColm poses with his trophy
Jim McColm (Who Cares? Scotland)

Sponsored by Young Scot

Winner: Jim McColm (Who Cares? Scotland) 

Jim exemplifies a passionate and devoted youth worker. His connection with the young people he supports is truly exceptional, drawing them in with his sense of humour and genuine dedication to their well-being. He actively supports young people in finding employment by offering valuable career advice based on his own experiences. Jim champions their cause and provides unwavering support, just as someone once did for him. 


Read more: Volunteer Youth Worker | #YLSAwards

Youth Worker of the Year

Youth worker of the year Gordon Johnston poses with his trophy
Graeme Johnston (Arran Youth Foundations)

Sponsored by Education Scotland

Winner: Graeme Johnston (Arran Youth Foundations) 

In just 12 years, Graeme has transformed AYF from a poorly attended youth work project into an award-winning organisation. AYF now offers free sessions every day of the week, providing a multitude of opportunities for young people on the island. Despite commuting from the mainland and balancing a young family, Graeme’s commitment to Arran’s youth remains steadfast. 


Read more: Youth Worker of the Year | #YLSAwards

Lifetime Achievement Awards

Press photo of National Youth Work Award Lifetime Achievement winners in 2023.
This year's Lifetime Achievement Award winners

Sponsored by YouthLink Scotland


Raza Sadiq, Active Life Club  

Susan Martin (The Prince’s Trust (Scotland)) Posthumous 

Roz Gallacher (South Lanarkshire Council) 

The Very Rev. Dr. Lorna Hood OBE 

Read more: Lifetime Achievement | #YLSAwards