Meet our incredible #YLSAwards 2022 winners!

It’s been a long time coming, and wow, what a night!! The National Youth Work Awards 2022 celebrated the fantastic youth work that is happening across the country.  

We are especially grateful to our category sponsors – Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, YMCA Scotland, Young Scot, CLD Standards Council for Scotland, Scottish Community Safety Network, SQA, Creative Scotland, Education Scotland, BBC Children in Need, Scottish Government and Nature Scot.  You are all strong supporters of Scotland’s youth workers and we appreciate your contribution to our National Awards.  

A big shout out to Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Youth Employment and Training who joined us to celebrate the power of the youth work sector. And to the actress Jane McCarry, aka, ‘Isa’ from Still Game, who was a hoot of a host.  

We have our line up of awesome winners and finalists but it’s important to remember that they are only a small snapshot of all the incredible and impactful youth work work going on, from Shetland to Galashiels and across to Argyll, everywhere in Scotland.  

Keep sharing, keep tweeting, keep celebrating #YLSAwards, the inspiration does not stop here… 

Let’s meet our Winners of 2022 #YLSAwards  

Picture of all the YLS Award winners on stage together.

Arts & Creativity

Sponsored by Creative Scotland

Winner: Angus Expressive Arts Project 

Across all programmes, over 250 young people have engaged with Angus Expressive Arts Project, with young people reporting improved confidence, self-esteem, ability to express their emotions and a reduction in feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

Another truly amazing example of youth work’s resilience, innovation and ability to respond to young people’s needs! 


Community-based Youth Work

Sponsored by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

Winner: St Paul’s Youth Forum Staff Team  

St Paul’s Youth Forum is an outstanding example of community-based youth work, youth-led at every turn, with community at its core. Young people make up 40% of the board, while SPYF’s remarkable staff retention rate means youth workers are embedded into the community and in tune to the needs of the young people they work with. 


Digital & STEM

Sponsored by SQA

Winner: Pride and Pixels (LGBT Youth Scotland) 

Pride and Pixels, a pioneering new service to reduce isolation and promote mental health, wellbeing and resilience through the creation of an online community on Discord. 

Initially piloted in early 2020 to reach young people in remote rural areas and young people who were socially isolated due to disability and mental ill health, Pride and Pixels became a fundamental pillar of LGBT Youth Scotland’s digital youth work offer throughout the pandemic – 87% of users stated that it had helped them to manage challenges in a difficult year. 


Environment & Conservation

Sponsored by NatureScot

Winner: North Lanarkshire Youth Climate Ambassadors (NLC)  

Meeting online or outdoors each week to plan community-based environmental action, the North Lanarkshire Youth Climate Ambassadors carry out litter picks, promote nature conservation, run youth-led workshops and explore environmental issues through creative projects. 

The group had success when their film ‘Dear World Leaders’ was highly commended in Keep Scotland Beautiful and Screen Scotland’s Youth Climate Film Project, quickly gathering well over 1,000 views. Members of the group quizzed council leaders for the film, before taking their message to global leaders set to take part in COP26. 


Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Sponsored by YMCA Scotland

Winner: Mitchell Graham (Deaf Action)  

After discovering his passion for volunteering and working with young people during a gap year, Mitchell had to overcome significant challenges in order to graduate, not receiving official communications support until his third year of study. With his experience, Mitchell now acts as a role model for young deaf people at the start of their education journey. 

Emily Mackenzie said: “With Mitchell’s help, I’ve learned to feel proud to be deaf. I feel more confident about asking for extra support in school. Mitchell is helping my family and I to learn BSL together, he is a great teacher!” 


Health & Wellbeing

Sponsored by BBC Children in Need

Winner: Regenfx & Liber8 Go To Mental Health Service (South Lanarkshire)  

Go To South Lanarkshire is an impactful partnership between great youth work, counsellors and the Regen:fx Youth Advisory Panel, led by young people with lived experience of mental health issues. They provide one-to-one support, youth leadership, peer mentoring, psychoeducation group work, life skills and CBT counselling.  

100% of participants reported an increase in more positive mental health and well-being which demonstrates the power of this partnership.    


Inspirational Leader

Sponsored by Scottish Government

Winner: Kelly Ross (Dumfries and Galloway Council)  

When face-to-face youth work ground to a halt, within 24 hours Kelly Ross and her team had devised a 7-day-a-week online service which offered social activities, group work, issue-based groups, one-to-one intensive support and a string of innovative social media campaigns on TikTok and Snapchat. So successful was Kelly’s model that it was shared and rolled out with 25 other councils in Scotland in response to Covid-19. 


Participation & Youth Voice

Sponsored by Scottish Government

Winner: Hannah Brisbane (Girlguiding Scotland)  

Hannah has been the volunteer lead on Girlguiding Scotland’s advocacy work, ensuring the voices of girls and young women are at the centre of decision making. 

She developed the idea for the Speak Out Youth Panel, a group of 20 young women who influence the direction of Girlguiding Scotland.  

As part of this work, she has led on campaigns including Citizen Girl, to engage more young women in politics and Media Mindful, supporting girls to challenge how women are represented in the media. In total, these projects have impacted nearly 10,000 girls.  


Recognising Skills and Achievement

Sponsored by Education Scotland

Winner: Step Forward Wick Youth Team  

Step Forward has transformed the school experience for pupils, broadening the curriculum offer, raising attainment and improving health and wellbeing. This success is down to the skills of youth work practitioners, building supportive relationships with pupils, and designing learning opportunities alongside young people. 

The project was recently highlighted as a good practice example in Education Scotland’s publication ‘What Scotland Learned – 100 Stories of Lockdown.’  


Team of the Year

Sponsored by CLD Standards Council for Scotland

Winner: North Lanarkshire CLD Youth Work Team  

With a youth participation rate that’s one of the best in Scotland, North Lanarkshire’s Youth Work Team are inspiring finalists.  

During the pandemic, they proved themselves to be responsive, adaptable, resilient and innovative. They coordinated childcare hubs, created huge online events such as the Big Camp Out and developed new ways to deliver digital and detached youth work. Through comprehensive contact strategies, the team successfully engaged with young people who experience intersectionality and the adverse effects of poverty.   


Volunteer Youth Worker

Sponsored by Young Scot

Winner: Dominik Hanley (Castlemilk Youth Complex) 

Dominik, known to everyone as Dom, has used his own experience as a young person involved in Castlemilk Youth Complex to become an awesome volunteer youth worker. His skills are so versatile that he can turn his hand to anything from creative arts to sport. This allows him to build relationships with all young people, no matter what their interest. 

At the end of each youth work session he is always nominating young people he has worked with as “Star of the Night” and makes a big deal about them learning a new chord or participating well in a workshop. This encouragement does go unnoticed, and the young people love hearing his positive feedback.  


Youth Worker of the Year

Sponsored by Education Scotland and the Scottish & Community Safety Network

Winner: Siobhan Gray (Renfrewshire Council)  

Siobhan has a fierce commitment to youth empowerment. She has worked for several years with Erskine Youth Council, helping them through turbulent, challenging times, supporting them to access external funding so they can see their ideas in action. The Bargarran Play Park is the first interactive play park in Europe, her support ensured young people led on this initiative and its great community asset.  

Another fantastic example of youth participation is the Art BOSS project, improving the health and wellbeing of care experienced young people, and winner of a Young Scot Award. Her energy and creative talent alongside an insight into how to support and encourage young people to take a lead is a hard balance to achieve, but she does it.    


Sponsored by YouthLink Scotland

Gordon Cowan (North Ayrshire Council) 

Gordon Cowan has changed the lives of many young people over his 30 years as a youth worker. His passion for youth work is contagious, with young people he has worked with going into the profession as well. You could say he is a visionary, setting up The Caley Youth Centre in North Ayrshire, which is now an epicentre of creativity through arts, digital and music.  

Ian McLaughlan (Youth Scotland)  

At Youth Scotland, Ian has built on the extensive track record of the organisation and worked to increase support for community-based youth work in Scotland. He has significantly raised the profile of both the organisation and the youth work sector as a whole.  

He wears his achievements humbly but Ian demonstrates that values driven leadership will always result in far-reaching impact. 

Sascha Macleod (The BIG Project)  

Spanning 42 years, Sascha’s career demonstrates a fervour and dedication to youth work and improving the lives of young people that has had a far-reaching impact.  

Her work with disadvantaged Edinburgh communities, led her to establish and manage The Citadel Youth Centre, which is the home of great youth work right in the heart of Leith.