World YMCA Spotlight’s Paisley for International Day of Education

Paisley YMCA’s innovative work in delivering digital youthwork programmes has been spotlighted by World YMCA for 2021’s International Education Day (25 January) in an article for the World YMCA website.

The article also showcases the work of STEM Girls, which provides for young women the chance to overcome the impact of the unfortunate gender stereotypes which hinder the digital world.

Digital Youth Work Explained

SWGfL (South West Grid for Learning) which is a “charity dedicated to empowering the safe and secure use of technology through innovative services, tools, content and policy, nationally and globally” has published a podcast interview with Hilary Phillips from YouthLink Scotland.

The interview “delve[s] into digital youth work, the digital divide, and challenges for young people and youth workers engaging online”.

This podcast about ‘Digital Youth Work’ references the work of Paisley YMCA a couple of times, and it’s a good place to start in understanding what’s meant by ‘digital youth work’.

The references to Paisley YMCA are a result of the pioneering work by our community learning and development team which has established the Renfrewshire Digital Academy, led by Darran Gillan, our Youth and Programme Development Manager.

The podcast also references the digital youth work resource hub, created by YouthLink Scotland with support from key

Join Us – we’re seeking new members

Paisley YMCA has seen in recent years a reduction in our membership to the extent that all our members are on the Board of Management, but this is changing for 2021 – we’re looking for new members to join us

At it’s heart, Paisley YMCA, like all YMCAs, is about fellowship of like-minded people who share the Christian values of:

  • treating other people the way we’d like to be treated ourselves (‘do unto others as you would be done by’ is the Christian ‘Golden Rule’); and
  • supporting other people regardless of their personal characteristics, be that race or ethnicity, religious belief or lack of it, sex or gender, sexuality, disability or age, or whatever spurious grounds for discrimination might be applied elsewhere (as exemplified by the ‘Good Samaritan’ parable in which a Philistine in trouble was helped by a Samaritan despite a situation of war between the two tribes).

And we recognise that these essential Christian values are shared by people with other religious beliefs and by people with no religious beliefs. Our fellowship is based on values not belief.

Our constitution commits us to other ways of expressing aspects of these values, like the Community Learning and Development values of:

  • self-determination – respecting the individual and valuing the right of people to make their own choices.
  • inclusion – valuing equality of both opportunity and outcome, and challenging discriminatory practice.
  • empowerment – increasing the ability of individuals and groups to influence issues that affect them and their communities through individual and/ or collective action.
  • working collaboratively – maximising collaborative working relationships in partnerships between the many agencies which contribute to CLD, including collaborative work with participants, learners and communities.
  • promotion of learning as a lifelong activity – ensuring that individuals are aware of a range of learning opportunities and are able to access relevant options at any stage of their life.

Another way of expressing our values is that what we want for the young poeple we work with is for them to achieve Scotland’s National Youth Work Outcomes – that young people:

  • are confident, resilient and optimistic for the future;
  • manage personal, social and formal relationships;
  • create, describe and apply their learning and skills;
  • participate safely and effectively in groups;
  • consider risk, make reasoned decisions and take control;
  • express their voice and demonstrate social commitment; and
  • broaden their perspectives through new experiences and thinking

If you share our values and you care about supporting young people to develop character and skills, we’d like you to think about joining us. It’ll cost you nothing but a little bit of time and interest 🙂

young people should be seen, heard and listened to

Back in the old days, long before the young people we work with were dreamt of, many of those who serve on the Board of Management were raised themselves in a time where it was understood that young people should be ‘seen and not heard’. Decisions about the present which would affect the future, were reserved for older, ‘wiser’ heads, whose judgement would be unaffected by the clarity of young perceptions and whose compromises would lead to a stable future.

These days, such attitudes seem so last century. What do we have as a result? We’ve a world which is being slowly, becoming rapidly, killed by overconsumption and inequality. We’ve reserved decisions for people who won’t have to deal with their long term consequences and we still don’t value, as a society, the clarity of thought which young people can bring to conversations.

We still need the compromises brought by challenging new ideas with tests of practicality understood by those with experience, but we don’t need ‘we’ve always done it this way so we should now’ and we don’t need ‘we tried that before and it didn’t work so we shouldn’t try it again’. We need the involvement of young people in the decisions which affect them and especially which will affect them as adults later, long after us older people have gone.

Young people should be seen. They tend not to be in some of the most surprising places, like Paisley’s town centre and they tend not to be in the places where decisions are made. They should be heard, and encouraged to speak up, because they’re citizens just like old people like me and because their perspectives are born of a fresh look at life which would otherwise be missing. And being heard, but not listened to, is pointless. We have to recognise that effective expression comes from practice, we have to give young people the opportunity to practice expressing their ideas and we have to make additional effort to listen where it’s a little more difficult because they lack practice in being seen and heard.

So, where to start? Youth work should be aimed at supporting young people to confidently interact with adults in authority, so that they can continue to do so later as adults, and, hopefully, as adults they’ll remember expressing their own views and they’ll seek those of younger people in turn. We don’t have the answer, because we need millions of answers in the form of supporting young people to express themselves, to do so confidently and appropriately and to expect to be listened to and egnaged with, with respect for their potential as much as their existing experience.

So, this section of our website is an experiment in listening to , hearing and seeing young people. It doesn’t matter what they want to be listened to about as much as it matters that we develop our listening skills ourselves. The young people we support in Paisley and thereabouts can use this section to say what’s important to them and how they feel about it, to ask questions, to publish creative work, to link to information and services useful from their perspective, or fun from their perspective, or … whatever they’d like to use the opportunity for.

We’ll still maintain a cautious approach to moderation, and we’ll still reserve the right to correct, if needed, misplaced apostrophes (for me, the correct use of the apostrophe remains the root of all civilisation, which while it shows how old I am, remains part of effective expression).

If we can, we’ll support young voices to be heard and listened to. If this doesn’t prove attractive to young people then at least we tried.

Paisley, and the rest of the world, belongs not to the old, but to the young, who’ll inherit the consequences of our decisions. I hope that by listening to young people, we’ll leave them a better place.