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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

A youth worker on The Apprentice? – it’s not in our nature!

This opinion piece is over 7 years old

Kerry Reilly tells explains why youth workers should put themselves forward for the National Youth Worker Awards

Is it just me or is there something in the psyche of the average youth worker that shies away from overtly advertising or promoting our own professional achievements? Perhaps that is why there has never been a youth worker on The Apprentice – we are primarily interested in making a difference to young people and our local communities, rather than self-promotion and individual gain. As youth workers, we are amongst the first to find every opportunity to celebrate the achievements of young people, to put them in the limelight and to celebrate the impact that youth work has on their lives.

If we believe what we say in Scotland about the nature and purpose of youth work, then one of the founding principals is that youth work recognises the young person and the youth worker as partners in a learning process. Any human partnership requires more than one individual, and therefore the outcomes of that partnership are a result of both parties, not just one.

Kerry Reilly

Let’s continue to celebrate those individuals, shine a light on them and overtly promote their individual and professional achievements

Kerry Reilly

As a previous winner of Youth Work Manager of the Year, it is a humbling experience to be an award winner but also a great privilege to know that your individual contribution is valued by colleagues, peers and young people. This year we held our first every YMCA Awards Dinner in Scotland, celebrating the achievements of our young people, our youth workers and our volunteers. It felt great to take time out to say thank you and to recognise the contributions and achievements of individuals.

In March next year YouthLink Scotland will celebrate 10 years of the National Youth Worker of the Year Awards. I think it is great that these awards are entitled National Youth Worker Awards and not National Youth Work Award. Some of you may think that this is just semantics, but there is a distinction. As I said before, we are great at celebrating and promoting the successes and outcomes of youth work and young people, but we also need to remember that youth work wouldn’t happen without great youth workers. So, once a year, let’s continue to celebrate those individuals, shine a light on them and overtly promote their individual and professional achievements. And if there happens to be a Scottish Government minister and one or two national papers with us to share the celebrations, then all the better!

If you’ve never written a nomination or attended the awards, then why not join the rest of us in looking out those glad rags, getting your nominations written and booking your place at the awards. I look forward to seeing you there!

Get those nominations in by the deadline of 5 pm on Monday 16 January 2017. Nominate at

Kerry Reilly is chief executive of YMCA Scotland