Youth work heroes revealed

Eilaine coffey, hot chocolate trust, dundee

The National Youth Work Awards 2019 took place in Glasgow last week

18th March 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

The vital support provided by youth workers across Scotland has been celebrated.

The National Youth Work Awards 2019 took place last week and celebrate Scotland’s 80,000 youth workers, who work with over 350,000 young people every year.

Eilaine Coffey, a youth worker from Dundee was named Scotland’s Youth Worker of the Year 2019 for her work in empowering vulnerable young people to turn their lives around.

Eilaine works for Hot Chocolate Trust (HC) based in the Steeple Church, Dundee. Since 2001, HC has worked with thousands of young people who hang out in the city centre, building relationships and supporting them to navigate the changes towards adulthood and positive futures.

She said:  “For me the biggest honour on receiving this award is that young people took the time to nominate me. I can honestly say I was blown away when I found out.

“I have spent 10 years of my youth work life at Hot Chocolate, because it’s a place where young people and team can grow and learn together. The project gets alongside young people, providing space for them to connect, to explore, to share their life, dreams, hopes, fears and ambitions, and at Hot Chocolate every day is most definitely a new day.”

Modo – Circus with Purpose, based in Peterhead, picked up a national award for reducing youth crime and building community relations. Their approach has seen a 46% reduction in anti-social behaviour in the local area. In the last year 600 youngsters have used the drop-in youth café every week, where they have the opportunity to play sport, get involved in circus and creative sessions and get one-to-one support from youth workers about issues they are facing in life.

Scotland’s Inspirational Leader of the Year went to Fergus McMillan, chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland. Whether he’s judging a drag lip sync battle with the Cabinet Minister for Equalities, speaking up for LGBTI young people’s rights in the media or welcoming new volunteers into the LGBT Youth Scotland fold, his leadership style brings people together.

Fergus said: “It’s an honour to lead such a talented and dedicated team of volunteers and staff, helping make Scotland the best place to grow up for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people. Visible and positive leadership is very important in championing the rights of young people in Scotland, especially for those who sometimes have those rights called into question.”

And the accolades for the organisation did not end there, Daniel Bustillos of LGBT Youth Scotland in Stirling was named Volunteer of the Year for his work with local young people.

A campaign highlighting mental health support, called 13 ways, won the Mental Health and Wellbeing Award. The campaign was led by Year of Young People Ambassadors in North Ayrshire.

The ambassadors wanted to counteract what they saw as negative messages coming from the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, which centres round a young woman’s 13 reasons why she committed suicide. Working with local partners and a creative agency, they developed a range of digital content and campaign messages to highlight support available to young people.

Chief executive of YouthLink Scotland, Tim Frew said: “These national awards are about celebration and joy, but also hope and belief that the inspiring youth work we see highlighted will expand and develop, in spite of economic challenges. Every day youth workers walk alongside young people, supporting them through life and learning, being there at all the key transition points of their lives. Investing in youth work ensures all our young people are valued by society.”