Celebrating Sma’ Shot Day with ReMode Youth! All About Our Latest Animation Project 🎥

This year in preparation for Sma’ Shot day 2022, our young people have been working on a short animation project to tell the story of how this historic day came to be. Taking place 2nd July, Sma’ Shot day celebrates the weavers of Paisley, who fought for their workers’ rights to be paid fairly for their use of the Sma’ Shot; a woven yarn used to create Paisley shawls that was invisible to the human eye but invaluable to the construction, for which the weavers were not compensated. After reaching the height of protest, their work was recognised and they gained the right be paid fairly, making a historic moment in the history of Paisley.  

In collaboration with ReMode Youth, our young people have been creating storyboards and stop motion characters to show how creatively they can tell this story of victory for those in Paisley to be paid for their valuable work.  

One of the facilitators from ReMode Youth Joseph, who has been working with our young people to show them the creative process of stop motion animation, states;  

“We’re about halfway through the project, it’s going well and we’re starting to properly get into animating. The goal of the project is trying to explore this story of Sma’ shot day, creating a simple story that encapsulates the idea of who’s in control of products […] and helping people to understand the power dynamic then between boss and employee.” 

Through the creation of sets, stop motion animation, story development and sound design, our young people are on their way to have a finished product they can be truly proud of and signifies an important day in the history of Paisley and equality.  

By the end of the 6-week project, our aim is to have the short film completed and available to watch on our social media channels. If you would like to see the completed project, follow us on Twitter (@YMCApaisley), Facebook (We Are Paisley YMCA) and Instagram (paisleyymca). It will also be shown on ReMode Youth’s social media channels, such as Instagram @remode_youth, Twitter @ReModeit and Facebook @ReMode.  

Developing Our Makerspace! Technology, creativity and what has our young people excited 🖥️📱💻

In the past several months, we have been working hard to re-establish our Makerspace. New kit, toys and equipment have arrived in the past several months and we are thrilled at the new opportunities this equipment will offer to our weekly clubs.  

In addition to our 3D printers and Smart Gardens displayed in the window of our space, our recent new additions include a vinyl cutter, a printing press, VR headsets, a Podcast studio and our new greenscreen room.  

This technology enables our digital CLD (Community Learning and Development) team at Paisley YMCA to develop innovative and exciting projects for our young people allowing them to use these tools to open up their own creativity with guidance from our Youth Workers. It also gives them access to equipment and technology they may not be able to access from home or learning facilities. All of our clubs are focused on empowerment, building confidence, developing relationships, learning new skills and peer support.  

When asked what they were most excited to use in our space, various young people responded; 

“3D printer, I also want to use the greenscreen.”  

“I want to make t-shirts with the vinyl cutter!” 

“Making cats in the 3D printer.” 

“I want to make little 3D skulls, to decorate.” 

“I’m going to step out of reality. I want to look at virtual reality.” 

“I love the space. I can’t wait to use VR.” 

“VR is enjoyable.” 

Our exciting new projects include developing our podcast studio to amplify young people’s voices, working with ReMode Youth on a Sma’-Shot animation project currently in development, creating our Jacquard Loom project in collaboration with Paisley Museum with our young people designing an exciting new game to be displayed and other exciting new projects planned with our new technology.  

At Paisley YMCA, we utilise STEM learning and technology in our space in order to help young people with their personal development and expand their skillset. We are very excited to see what the future holds for our new kit and where our young people will take us with it!  

Tickets for our weekly clubs are available from Eventbrite. All of our clubs are free to attend and our base is located at 39 Paisley High Street. If you have any questions or queries, please contact claire@paisleyymca.scot.  

Reflecting on Loneliness: Mental Health Awareness Week

This year, The Mental Health Foundation have recognised 9th – 15th May as the week of mental health awareness. This year, the theme explored is the effects of loneliness and isolation.  

Loneliness affects millions of people both in the UK and worldwide. It contributes massively to difficult mental health struggles and was an important factor to the impact on mental health in the last two years, with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic necessitating lockdown procedures and severe restrictions upon seeing friends and family members.  

According to gov.uk between March and June 2020 (the time in which schools were closed), symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were found to have increased significantly in both children and young people aged between 7.5 – 12 years old in comparison to before the pandemic (however, the nature of the research makes a definitive link between young people’s mental health and the pandemic harder to establish). Additionally in 2020, young people aged 16 – 24 who live in the most deprived areas of the UK also experienced increases in psychological distress that were 3.4 times larger than those in lesser deprived areas. More information can be found here.  

Since the easing of lockdown restrictions, Paisley YMCA and other youth work services have since opened once again to the public to offer a space in which young people can come together to meet old friends and make new ones. The young people who attend our weekly clubs come from all over Renfrewshire and Glasgow too. In spite of this, they have formed lasting friendships that make them look forward to seeing each other every week. Our Makerspace provides a safe and welcoming environment for our young people to spend valuable time with each other and our youth workers and this kind of interaction is crucial to combat the effects of loneliness.  

A reflection from one of our young people

At one of our clubs this week, our young people talked about the ways technology in particular can help ease feelings of loneliness. It can provide a connection to other young people through online games and social media, which was a huge way for people to stay connected during the pandemic when meeting in person was difficult or impossible.  

However, they discussed the ways in which technology could also make them feel alienated and more disconnected from others as it shouldn’t substitute for connections with people in the real world. Technology is an integral part of many young people’s lives and discussing the effect it can have on mental health and loneliness is a valuable conversation – both the advantages and disadvantages it can bring.  

As we begin to come to terms with the long-term effects of the pandemic and what it means for the future, we must take into account the mental toll as well as the physical. Additionally, we will continue to reach out to young people and offer them as much care as we can through their struggles. Many young people suffer from loneliness and isolation and we provide them with understanding and support through resources such as through our social clubs, youth work and activities, as well as recommending other resources and encouraging a positive and safe space for them to share their thoughts and feelings.  

This week, we reflect on the effect loneliness and isolation can have on our young people and we encourage them to seek help and guidance through mental health resources and youth work designed to help them through this difficult time this week and for the foreseeable future. Together, we can show there is always someone who can help and no one is truly alone.  

Seeking Additional Board Members

Paisley YMCA delivers nationally leading youth work services based on digital technologies which make a real difference to young people – helping both skills and character development.

We’re based in the centre of Paisley, but we also deliver services in local communities.

Our recent AGM led to significant change on the Board as long-standing contributors retired and new people were elected as office bearers (Chair and Vice Chair) and other members joined the Board.

The changes bring to the Board new people and new capacity, but we’re feeling the loss of experience, and we’re looking for others to join us.  We no longer have a Treasurer, and we could really benefit from a Board member with financial management experience.

We also recognise that we’d really be helped by people with HR and properties management experience joining us. 

We find that volunteering to support the work of Paisley YMCA to be rewarding and useful for our own development. 

If you share our values, as outlined below, and you’d like to help Renfrewshire be a better place we’d like you to think about joining us as members, and if you’ve a financial management, HR or properties management background and some time to help and gain from personal development, we’d like you to think about joining the Board.

Back in the day, membership of Paisley YMCA was designed for people of Christian belief, but we’re now a membership organisation based on values, rather than religious belief.

We’re based on two core principles:

  • that people should treat others as they’d like to be treated themselves, sometimes called the ‘Golden Rule’.  While inspired by Christian teaching, we believe that this is a universal value found in some form in most religions and humanist movements.  We believe that if everyone stopped to consider their actions in this manner, the world would be a better place.  We’re proud that our members include people of different faiths and of none; and
  • that people in need should be helped regardless of who they are.  Again, a universal value, this one derived from the ‘good Samaritan’ parable.  We want to help people in Renfrewshire, particularly young people, have opportunities to learn and develop, and to thrive, whoever they may be.   We’re not just for people of any particular religion, ethnic background, sex or gender, age, sexual orientation or other way of dividing people, we’re for everyone.  (But we’ll remain mostly focussed on supporting young people).

We face some serious challenges and we’re looking for the right people to join us and help.

Our financial position is precarious and while we’re going to be focussed on applying for funds to carry us through, we also need to improve our financial management and reporting to the Board. 

Our HR policies and practices need to be overhauled and modernised. 

We own property which is currently draining resources without contributing to our work, but which could be a massive asset for Paisley. 

We’ve also got strengths.  We deliver sector-leading digital youth work and we’re building our new makerspace facilities right in the heart of Paisley.  We support young people to develop useful skills, and we know that some of the skills most important to young people aren’t technical but related to the ability to confidently interact with peers and with adults in authority. We support young people to think about our core values as they apply to their own lives.  We see young people develop in character and we’re proud to have been a part of their development.  We’ve a capable, knowledgeable staff team. We care about Paisley and the rest of Renfrewshire and its people.  We’re part of local community networks and the national and international YMCA movement. 

If you share our values and would like to support us, by becoming a member, we’d like to welcome you.  You can join from our website.  If, in addition, you’d like to help us based on HR,  property management or financial management experience, and you’d welcome the opportunity to develop your own experience by applying it to a different context, then please get in touch with Craig Green, the Chair, at craig@paisleyymca.scot.

Changes to our Board at Paisley YMCA 💬 – April 2022

After much deliberation and contribution to Paisley YMCA over the past several weeks, we can announce both the departure and addition of several members to our board.  

We say a fond goodbye to members such as Jim Moulson, Peter Gill, Bob Copleton, John McLaren and John McDonald, all of whom have worked hard serving as Board members for many years, and we thank them and wish them well in the future.  

We welcome our new board Chair, Craig Green, who has served as a member of the board for two years.  

Craig says “I’m honoured to have been elected as Chair.  We face a daunting financial position after the effects of Covid on the organisation and the fire which destroyed our original Makerspace premises and which badly set us back.  But, we’re now rebuilding our services after a return to the High Street in Paisley and we’re cautiously confident that we’ll be able to secure funding to continue and to further develop the services which make a real, positive difference to young people in the Paisley area – and our confidence comes from knowing the value of our skilled and dedicated staff team.”  

When asked what motivates him and others to give up time to support Paisley YMCA, he says that “It’s our values which sustain us – we work on the basis that people should treat others as they’d like to be treated themselves, and we work to support people in need, whoever they may be.  These are fundamental Christian values and while many of us are not at all religious, they’re values which unite us and which if everyone lived by, would make the world a far better place”

We are also thrilled to welcome our first female Vice Chair, Karen Murphy.  

She states: “The last couple years have been a trying time for Paisley YMCA, as well as the wider youth sector, due to the impact of COVID on our service delivery but also our young people. We are also still recovering from the fire at William Street. We have a lot to rebuild and redevelop.  

“However, I am confident that we can build Paisley YMCA up to again be the national leading organisation within the digital youth work field. We are redeveloping our High Street premises to be another ‘makerspace’, which I know our young people are keen to see. We will not disappoint them.” 

Our board also now includes Alex McFarlane, Diane Mitchell, David Keenan, Stuart Lowe and Gillian May.  

We happily welcome our new board members and we look forward to their contribution to the future of Paisley YMCA.  

Message from Our Board – Statement from Vice Chair, April 2022

A statement from our newly elected Vice Chair of the Board at Paisley YMCA Karen Murphy:

“I am delighted to have been elected by my peers within the board and wider membership as the Vice Chair of Paisley YMCA. I have several years of experience within the youth work field, as well as a Masters degree in community development and youth work. It was during my university placement that I began working with Paisley YMCA in a voluntary capacity which led me to join the board. Furthermore, in my current role as Volunteer Coordinator, I am developing a nation-wide volunteer programme, which is giving me a wider pool of knowledge and experience to bring to my role with Paisley YMCA.

“The last couple years have been a trying time for Paisley YMCA, as well as the wider youth sector, due to the impact of COVID on our service delivery but also our young people. We are also still recovering from the fire at William Street. We have a lot to rebuild and redevelop. However, I am confident that we can build Paisley YMCA up to again be the national leading organisation within the digital youth work field. We are redeveloping our High Street premises to be another ‘makerspace’, which I know our young people are keen to see . We will not disappoint them.

“It has been emotional to see so many long-standing board members leave us and we hope to properly celebrate their contributions soon. Yet, our AGM has brought in new board members including Gillian, Stuart, and the return of David. All three bring different specialist knowledge which will help the development of Paisley YMCA. We are lucky to still have Alex and Diane on board, as well as Craig leading us in his new role at the helm as Chair. As such, we have an extremely knowledgeable and experienced Board who I know can bring about the changes needed to develop Paisley YMCA into the organisation that we envision: a fellowship of like-minded people. We also have the opportunity to co-opt another 3 board members to help fill in the gaps in our boards’ areas of expertise. This will be a long process; however, we have a great staff team led by Claire to support us in this – and we will also be guided by our young people.

This opportunity to be Vice Chair is really exciting for me personally but also for Paisley YMCA, in that I am the first ever female office bearer for the organsiation. My colleagues on the board and I hope to continue to modernise Paisley YMCA in its practices; but our Christian values and our organisational aims remain the same: to support the communities of Paisley and the surrounding areas to flourish.”