Without youth work I wouldn't be me
YouthLink Scotland's media and communications assistant Jayne Copeland details her youth work journey, from a member of the Girls' Brigade to becoming a National Youth Work award winner.
Youth work and volunteering has always been my life. I started Girls’ Brigade when I was three years old and I am still a member today, helping run one company and taking all three age groups at another.
I started my volunteering journey when I was at high school, working with younger S1 pupils to offer my support and advice. I would also regularly volunteer at the pediatric ward in Wishaw General Hospital and much, much more.
One of the main reasons I love youth work is that you get to see young people grow. By offering my support and guidance, I like to think I can help them to be exactly who they are, not feel like they have to change for anything or anyone else.
I try to create a safe space for the young people I support if it is needed. I also enjoy the representative side of youth work – being a voice for them and standing up for them and what they believe. I try to be the person I needed when I was younger.
Youth work had a huge impact on me growing up. It has given me the confidence to believe that I am good at what I do. It has moulded me into the person I am today. I am welcomed and, for the most part, not judged for the way I am, or the colour of my hair, or the way I do my makeup.
Youth work brings so many benefits to young people, not just in skills and experience but it massively increases their confidence and sense of self-worth. The support of a youth worker who is passionate about what they do – and who works, not because they have to, but because they want to – can make a huge difference to a young person’s life.
Having experienced the benefits of youth work first hand, I always wanted to be able to give something back. To then be recognised for my work with young people was just incredible.
In 2011, I was nominated for YouthLink Scotland’s Volunteer of the Year award. Not only did I take home that award, but I also received the overall Youth Worker of the Year award for Scotland! I was blown away.
Since then, I have continued my youth work through volunteering at Girls’ Brigade and working with an anti-bullying organisation. Now, nine years after received these awards, I am now working for YouthLink Scotland! This has always been my dream and I love every minute of it!
Youth work has changed my life and without it I wouldn’t be me.