Staffing Changes

Darran Gillan, who served as the Youth and Programme Developemnt Manager for the last five years, has moved on to other employment. Darran oversaw the development of Paisley YMCA as a sector leading agency delivering ‘digital youth work’ and we wish him well in his new role.

Claire McGinley has been appointed on a temporary basis as Youth and Programme Development Manager and has already begun work in the new role.

Paisley YMCA will review its staffing structure in 2022.

Renfrewshire Youth Academies Now Underway

The Renfrewshire Youth Work Network supports the Outdoor, Culture, Digital and Community Empowerment Academies

The Renfrewshire Youth Work Network has organised youth work delivery into four Academies and the first one, the Culture Academy, led by our local partner Create Paisley, is now underway

There are four Academies:
• the Culture Academy (led by Create Paisley);
• the Digital Academy (led by Paisley YMCA),
• the Outdoor Academy (led by Renfrew YMCA); and
• the Community Empowerment Academy (led by Renfrewshire Council’s Youth Services)

While leading on the Digital Academy, Paisley YMCA is also supporting the others (digital art for the Culture Academy, ‘STEM in the Wild’ for the Outdoor Academy and support for the development of a new Community Empowerment Award for the Community Empowerment Academy)

The Academies were formed as part of the Youth Work Educational Recovery Programme, supported by the Scottish Government and they provide a framework for Youth Work Network members to gain recognition for the invaluable learning which comes from the Network’s various youth services

The recent fire at our Makerspace will inevitably hinder the Digital Academy a little but the majority of the work was anyway always intended to be conducted out in communities, and we’re now seeking partner venues to bring the Academy to local communities

The Academies will focus much of their work on some of the more deprived areas in Renfrewshire, but everything is open to all young people across the county

There’s an excellent article with more detailed information explaining the Culture Academy and the role of other partners including Right2Dance, at the Paisley Daily Express

And well done Alan and the team at Create Paisley for its early start!

Closing the Digital Divide with Raspberry Pi

Some of the young people we support have been highlighted by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in a recent blog post and an article in their MagPi magazine. In correspondence, a programme manager at the Raspberry Pi Foundation observed that “we consider Paisley YMCA to be a fantastic example of a youth organization that already excels at integrating digital making and youth work”.

The Raspberry Pi computers are at the heart of our ‘Makerspace at Home’ project.

A young person receives a Raspberry Pi kit to learn at home
Unpacking for Makerspace at Home
A young person receives a Raspberry Pi kit to learn at home
Learning as part of Makerspace at Home

Such external recognition is invaluable to us and we hope to contribute to a new Community Partnerships area of work with the Foundation.

Raspberry Pis are small and cheap, pocket-sized computers which enable young people to experience the full power of computing based on the open source Linux platform (instead of the usual Windows).

While we’re still recovering from the fire which destroyed the contents of our Makerspace, supporting young people at home and in their local communities has become even more important to our efforts to reach and support local young people.

More information about learning at home with the Raspberry Pi Foundation is available at Learning at home with the Raspberry Pi Foundation – Raspberry Pi

Meet and Code Awards

Well, we weren’t awarded first prize in the Community Category of the Meet and Code Awards (that went to the fantastic DENSA Coop Soc project in Italy) but we’re still proud that our ‘Five Days of Code’ event, delivered in October 2020, reached the Awards finals as the only UK finalist.

Our certificate of recognition as a finalist in the Meet and Code Awards 2020

Meet and Code helps non-profits organize grassroots coding events supporting communities of all sizes and making Europe more digital starting at the local level. The initiative strives for global change and work within the framework of EU Code Week and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This international dimension to our work is important to us, and reaching the finals is testament to the skills, innovation and dedication of our staff and to the positive response of young people in the Paisley area to informal learning opportunities which develop both technical skills and personal skills.

Well done all, we’re proud of you!

Support in the Aftermath of the Fire

We’re still dealing with the aftermath of the fire at Paisley YMCA’s Makerspace in William Street. Online services continue and meanwhile we’re awaiting reports to know whether or not there’s structural damage as well as equipment damage, damage to wiring and damage to equipment. We’re also progressing the insurance claim for equipment, of course.

There are five main factors helping us in these circumstances:

  • firstly, all of our running services were online anyway because of the Covid-19 restrictions, and so there’s been no sudden stop to delivery of services. Obviously, we were planning for resumption of services once lockdown restrictions were lifted and although we’ve no venue or equipment for the specialist work we do (yet) we’ve some time to regroup and replace kit like the 3D printer, laser cutter etc.;
  • secondly, some of our planned face to services will be delivered on an outreach basis anyway, (although we’ll need to replace much of our mobile equipment);
  • thirdly, we’re driven by our mission to support young people and we’re resilient, so whatever delays there may be in getting back to normal, we’ll not be stopped;
  • fourthly, our funders have already been understanding about the impact of Covid-19 and delays to some of our programmes; and
  • fifthly, and this is of massive value to us, we’ve been overwhelmed by the unsolicited positive response we’ve had to the situation in the form of messages of support and offers of help.

Offers of help have included those from:

  • Erskine Arts & Media Studio who have offered staff time and the loan of music equipment;
    Create Paisley who have offered staff time and art materials;
  • Renfrewshire Council who have asked us to contact them about potential funding, space or PR support through;
  • Renfrewshire Libraries who have offered library spaces;
  • Glasgow School of Art who have offered staff time and the loan of Makerspace equipment;
  • This is Makers who have offered staff time and Makerspace equipment;
  • Renfrew, Tayside and Bellshill YMCAs who have offered staff time to discuss support needs;
  • YMCA Scotland who have offered help with the insurance claim.
  • In addition, several professional individuals from a number of council and third sector orgs have offered individual help where they can; and youth club members’ parents and other local people have suggested support for raising funds.

This support reflects the high regard people have for our mission and the work of our staff in delivering it. As a Board member, I’m proud to be associated with the work our staff put in, and humbled to reflect on the value so many partners place on the results of their work.

On behalf of the Board, to all those who’ve offered practical and moral support for us, thank you. You’ve no idea how much difference it’s made to us in exceptionally trying circumstances. We’re deeply grateful 🙂