National Youth Work Awards: meet our Digital Award finalists

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Like never before, young people can take control of their own lives and learning through open access to unlimited information online. But along with these limitless possibilities come a whole host of new challenges.

When it comes down to it, our ‘digital’ lives are really just our lives, and our finalists are leading the way supporting young people to navigate new spaces and realise their rights.

Darran Gillan, Paisley YMCA

Paisley YMCA are at the forefront of digital youth work innovation in Scotland – and leading the way is Darran.

As Youth and Community Development Manager, Darran uses his unique blend of youth work skills, digital knowledge and strong partnerships with statutory services to deliver a cutting-edge programme of local activities. He was instrumental in launching Renfrewshire’s first digital youth business incubator, a dedicated entrepreneurial space for young people to explore getting in to the digital workforce or setting up their own start-up. And he’s claimed another first too, opening the area’s first Maker Space so that young people can create, invent and learn using technology.

It’s safe to say there’s nothing else quite like it in the area. In fact, Darran’s digital youth expertise is in demand across the world; he’s been invited to share learning in Singapore with Comic Relief and Finland with Erasmus+.

The SCRATCH Group, North Ayrshire

Every party of adventurers needs their Dungeon Master to shape the game. And in North Ayrshire, the SCRATCH Group empower young people to create their own stories and forge their own paths – all through digital technology and gaming.

Youth and community workers host the group every week, drawing on the young people’s interests to play board games and video games, showcase new technology like 3D printing, and build confidence and lifelong friendships.

But it’s their partnership with the Council’s DigiDabble initiative that gained this nomination valuable experience points. SCRATCH members are encouraged to share their learning and skills from the group with the community. Like 16-year-old Ross. He often volunteers at his local library to demo Dungeons and Dragons gameplay, VR technology, card gaming and new digital products with the public – something he never thought he would do!

#TransplantStories, North Lanarkshire

“It was one of the most amazing and memorable experiences of my life.” That’s what Lucy had to say about the #TransplantStories digital team at the 2017 British Transplant Games.

This unique partnership between the University of the West of Scotland and North Lanarkshire's Community Learning and Development youth work team saw 11 young people from schools, employability hubs and Modern Apprenticeships come together to learn new digital skills. Over 12 weeks, the youth work team ran sessions on online journalism, social media, podcasting and mobile video editing, all working towards the big event – four hectic days of ‘access all areas’ digital reporting from the Games!

Their #TransplantStories hashtag reached 53,000 people, with their top-performing video viewed more than 1,000 times. But even better, every young person involved gained Saltire and Dynamic Youth Awards, recognising their volunteering commitment, learning and contribution to the project.

We’ll be announcing the winners at our National Youth Worker of the Year Awards Dinner on 15 March 2018 at the Crowne Plaza, Glasgow. Keep your eyes on #YLSawards for updates, or better still book your place at this year’s Awards Dinner here.

And of course, thank you to Sky Academy for sponsoring the Digital Youth Work Award. We couldn’t celebrate these outstanding achievements without your continued support.

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