A glittering ceremony in Glasgow recognised how young people's lives are being turned around by dedicated individuals and groups.
If anyone had asked Louie Pastore five years ago where he’d be today he’d probably have said prison.
However last week marked a remarkable turnaround in his fortunes, winning Scotland’s Youth Worker of the Year award for his work supporting young people do what he did – turn their lives around.
YouthLink Scotland’s National Youth Worker of the Year Awards recognised 14 individuals and organisations for the role they have played in helping young people and young people’s services.
Louie volunteers at Larkfield Link Up, a project delivered by Action for Children Scotland, aiming to help local residents setup and access leisure and recreation activities which encourage the community to help one another.
Aileen Campbell MSP
He managed to turn his life around after contact with Action for Children’s Inverclyde Integrated Criminal Justice project and is now an official volunteer and ambassador for the charity.
“I really enjoy volunteering with Action for Children Scotland,” he said. “Through my work with Larkfield Link Up I’ve delivered DJ workshops and graffiti art classes, and in my role as a young ambassador I have spoken at events, helping people to understand what the charity does.
I’m very proud to have won this award. I now want to find a job as a youth worker and this is a great addition to my CV - Louie Pastore
“I’m very proud to have won this award. I now want to find a job as a youth worker and this is a great addition to my CV.”
One of the young people who has benefited from his experience, said the fact that Louie has been through problems himself makes him a great role model.
“It makes a difference that Louie is a young person too. He knows what it’s like out there, he is great for advice and tells us how to keep out of trouble. He used to get into trouble himself and knows it doesn’t do you any good, ‘don’t do it, I’ve been there’ he told me and I really listened to him.”
It’s the seventh National Youth Worker of the Year awards which showcase youth work carried out the length and breadth of the country.
The winners were announced and presented with their awards at Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza hotel at a ceremony hosted by broadcaster and DJ Grant Stott, with the awards presented by Scotland’s minister for children and young people Aileen Campbell MSP.
“The winners from across Scotland have demonstrated outstanding commitment and passion to changing the lives of young people for the better,” said Jim Sweeney, chief executive of YouthLink Scotland.
“From youth volunteers who have overcome harrowing and challenging circumstances in their own lives to mentor and support their peers to innovative projects that are helping young people back into employment.
“Youth work provides invaluable support and great opportunities for personal growth.”
Other winners included Callum McKay of Xplore Peer Mentoring programme in Dundee, who won Role Model of the Year for his work with young people his age.
Callum has worked hard to overcome the difficulties he himself has faced in life, often finding himself at the wrong end of the law.
Callum’s mother Joyce said: “Since Callum became a peer mentor I don’t have the police at the door anymore. I’m delighted he’s won this award; he deserves it.”
Winners have demonstrated outstanding commitment and passion to changing the lives of young people - Jim Sweeney
Getting young people to teach pensioners to text has led Yvonne Boa, a youth worker based at Ullapool High School, to win the Intergenerational Project of the Year, which recognises ground-breaking work in bringing the generations together.
She was fundamental to setting up the Get to Know your Techno project which brings the older and younger generations together to learn about the wonders of social media.
There were also three lifetime achievement awards given to Fraser Falconer of BBC Children in Need, Ian Boardman of Lothian Association of Youth Clubsand Christine Johnston of the 3rd Kilsyth Boys Brigade.
Campbell also announced more cash tp deliver a wide range of youth work programmes.
“The Scottish Government recognises the contribution of volunteers who give up their own precious time,” she said.
“That’s why I’m pleased to confirm £500,000 funding to continue the National Voluntary Organisations Support Fund for 2014-15, to help build capacity and support volunteering in youth work groups and organisations across the country.”