Meet the finalists: Youth Worker of the Year

A youth worker meets a young person where they are, working in equal partnership to develop the young person's skills, confidence, communication, relationships, emotional resilience and more. Our three finalists for the Youth Worker of the Year category have provided that vital support when life’s challenges seem overwhelming. Helping to broaden a young person’s horizons through new experiences and new ways of thinking and supporting them to feel optimistic about the future. Youth work changes lives. 


Claire Whyte, Fersands & Fountain Community Project 

It just takes one, and for this community, Claire Whyte has been the one to transform the lives of many young people she works with.  

The project brings families, community and young people together to manage and deliver the services local people need to thrive. 

In an area where 40% of residents have English as a second language, Claire has ensured welcoming and accessible youth work activities that truly reflect, recognise and celebrate their diverse community.  

Her insight as a youth worker, her ability to connect and the relationships she has built with young people has resulted in plans for dedicated youth mental health support in the community. Working with young people living in poverty led her to fundraise for The Bedroom Project, allowing families to create a better bedroom space for young people, improving their mental health and learning. 

“She is great because she cares about young people and what their needs are and what they want to do.” Iona Kilpatrick.

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Mitchell Graham, Deaf Action  

Mitchell joined Deaf Action in March 2021 and in only six months, he has transformed the youth club, with a 500% increase in regular attendance, a significant increase in partner-referrals and much improved family engagement. That’s quite a start! 

As a deaf BSL user, he leads the Deaf Action Youth Club with lived-experience. He is a positive role model for deaf young people, with many personal accomplishments including competing at the Deaflympics. His asset-focussed approach unlocks young people’s potential. By celebrating deaf culture and supporting young people to develop a positive deaf identity, Mitchell has reinvigorated the youth work service.  

Deaf Action’s data shows that young people have improved relationships, increased self-belief and increased essential skills. Mitchell recognises that these outcomes are the building blocks to giving young-people the confidence to assert their rights. His wrap-around family support also helps raise awareness of the rights young people have, especially when accessing education. 

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Siobhan Gray, Renfrewshire Council 

“Always up for giving everything a go no matter how crazy our ideas are, and the first to support us when needed and never backs away from a challenge.” Young person 

Siobhan has a fierce commitment to youth empowerment. She has worked for several years with Erskine Youth Council, helping them through turbulent, challenging times, supporting them to access external funding so they can see their ideas in action. The Bargarran Play Park is the first interactive play park in Europe, her support ensured young people led on this initiative and its great community asset.  

Another fantastic example of youth participation is the Art BOSS project, improving the health and wellbeing of care experienced young people, and winner of a Young Scot Award.  Her energy and creative talent alongside an insight into how to support and encourage young people to take a lead is a hard balance to achieve, but she does it.    

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