Anti – Bullying Week 2022 – The Role of Youth Work

For this Anti-Bullying Week 2022, we reflect on the important role youth work plays in reaching out and supporting young people who may feel trapped and isolated from the effects of bullying.  

Bullying is an issue that affects countless amounts of young people every day and is a leading cause of depression, mental health and self-esteem issues. According to the Anti-Bullying Alliance, the theme of this year’s campaign is Reach Out; reaching out to show each other the support we need. One of the primary goals of youth work is accomplish this by providing a safe space for young people to feel comfortable opening up about what may be troubling them, including bullying.  

Organisations like ours seek to provide a friendly and inclusive environment, which is an invaluable resource for young people who may experience bullying from any environment, including digital. Bullying can take many forms, some physical and verbal but cyberbullying has also become a more pressing issue each year. Youth Worker Kieran McPhail states; 

“Bullying is still a major concern and consistent worry of young people with technology and social media making it far easier for a young person to be bullied and picked on even in the comfort of their own bedroom, a place that for many is a safe space, their haven.” 

Youth workers also play a role in helping young people to feel safe and create an open and positive environment. Club activity allows young people to meet and make new friends, get away from stresses they may feel at home or school and receive help from the effects of bullying and other social problems they may be experiencing; 


“I think youth work and in extension youth workers play an indispensable and valuable role in creating and maintaining a safe space for any and all young people, allowing young people to have a space where they can express, create and be themselves freely and without judgement. A youth worker will be there and be dependable, to listen and support a young person.” 

“Behind many of these spaces, there’s a group or organisation with youth workers who are dedicated and willing to create and maintain a culture of openness, no judgement and a space where young people will always be listened to, heard and safe in these spaces.” 

To find out more resources online that can be used to help in the Anti-Bullying campaign, please check the Anti-Bullying Alliance’s website. Together, we can all reach out to do our part to ensure as many young people as possible do not suffer due to the effects of bullying.  

Community Places Community Spaces – Young Women Lead East Renfrewshire & Renfrewshire

Community Places Community Spaces is a campaign developed by Young Women Lead that was officially launched last week on the 20th September.  

In response for the need for safe community spaces and places in Paisley & Renfrewshire, the campaign is designed to highlight all of the places available in the area that could inform people safe places they can take refuge. Young Woman Lead is a leadership programme run by YWCA Scotland for women and non-binary people aged 16 – 30. The result is a website that shows the user a detailed interactive map and directory of safe spaces and services available to vulnerable groups, especially women and non-binary people. This is also a project that two of our very own young leaders/volunteers have been heavily involved with and we couldn’t be prouder of them!  

We spoke with the two of our young volunteers who helped to design and bring this amazing project to life and asked them further about where the idea came from and how they went about designing it; 

“When we first met, we went through ideas of different aspects that we could talk about; there was education, street safety. We settled on street safety.” 

“A designated building that would be a safe space for women, non-binary people and just everyone. And we thought instead of making that space ourselves, we choose out different places and made a map you could interact with and it could show you safe spaces from where you are located at the time.” 

“We created the website and we linked the map to it, it has information of all different spaces in Renfrewshire, like Paisley YMCA. We got together and launched the website on the 20th September. The logo is a mixture of the symbol of femininity and it’s in the middle of the Paisley pattern. A hidden detail is a dotted line around the logo, representing the map road.” 

“Overall, I think it will make women less scared to go out when it’s dark, since they don’t have to plan a route and they have a plan where they’re going and how to get there. I know it would make me feel safer. It’s for everyone, as well. It’s not just for women, it’s for anyone who needs it.” 

“We’re hoping it’s going to make a difference; we have stickers and flyers that people can use to find us.” 

In a statement Katie, a member of YWL East Ren & Renfrewshire said “I’ve been so honoured to be part of this project, as it is providing a really useful tool for the women and non-binary people of Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire to use. My hope is that this informative campaign encourages the use of our wonderful services and subsequently makes women and non-binary people feel less isolated.  

You can engage with Community Places Community Spaces outside of their website by following their social media channels; @communityspaceren (Instagram), @commspacesren (Twitter) and communityspacesren@gmail.com . For more information about the amazing work done by Young Women Lead, please check out their website!

Our New Youth Club Schedule 2022 💥

We are thrilled to reveal our brand new youth club schedule following the end of our Summer of Fun 2022 Programme! This club schedule begins on the 22nd August with plans to continue until the end of 2022.

There will be four clubs running in our space every week, as well as our online Coder Dojo and Silly Coding every Thursday in partnership with Renfrewshire Libraries.

We have Mecha Mondays, where young people can come for coding and stem/tech-based activities! With our coding software and PCs, this is a great club for young people to come and develop their tech-savvy skills with our youth workers. On Wednesdays we have our mainstay favourite STEM Girls, where girls can come together for STEM-based activities and highlight the importance of representation in STEM.

We also have Future Fridays, in which our youth workers will help young people with ongoing projects and activities aimed at improving their skillset and providing access to technology and stem-based equipment they may not otherwise have access to.

Finally we have Satur-Play, an entirely game-based club focusing on any kind of game our young people would like to play. As well as technology and board games, we are also introducing Dungeons and Dragons to our list of games! One of our youth workers is an experienced and amazing Dungeon Master who knows how to create the most exciting adventure while explaining how to play along the way. Whether you’re a well-versed dragon slayer or have never played once before, we’d love to see you there!

All of these clubs in our space will run from 6pm – 8pm, except Satur-Play which runs from 1pm – 3:30pm. Details on how to register are available from our Eventbrite page. If you require any more information, please email claire@paisleyymca.scot. We hope to see you there!

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.  

A Space for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics; Reflecting on Science Week 2022 at Paisley YMCA

As we come to the end of UK Science week, we reflect on the importance role science and technology plays in our weekly clubs available for our young people. 

We have a variety of science-based clubs available at our makerspace each week, including STEM Girls on Wednesday and STEM Saturdays, which allows a space for our young people to create and explore STEM experiments and activities.  

With our latest technological additions to our space such as a vinyl cutter and 3D printers, this opens up even more possibilities for seeing what our young people can come up with using technology and household materials to create STEM-based projects that teach them about the imagination that goes into science.  

According to Youth Worker Mary-Jane McNally, this freedom to explore and create is part of why the science element to our clubs is so important to our young people, “The way science is normally portrayed is a very specific type that only appeals to one type of brain. And I feel that’s doing a science a disservice. It’s about repeating and recording and there’s other aspects. If you want to experience a range of things just casually on their own terms [..] It’s nice to be able to want to do something and just do it. School decides on your behalf what you’re doing.  

“They come here and if they want something, within reason, we’ll try to facilitate them getting towards their goals so the range of science can be broader. Some science-based environments are about results; here it’s about discovering things on your one terms instead of solely going through what people have done in the past so you can get something new.” 

At Paisley YMCA, we base the majority of our weekly clubs at the Makerspace from response to the suggestions of our young people. Therefore, the strong scientific element of our clubs comes from our young people’s enthusiasm for STEM/STEAM-based activities. These included the building of structures and project using household items and materials such as pipe cleaners, cardboard, spaghetti and much more throughout the week! While our Future Fridays are a great space for young people to just chill and hang out with their friends, Wednesdays and Saturdays are when the young people come to show us their innovation with our Youth Workers to help them along with their projects and ideas!

However, STEAM activities cover much more than just the S for science; it also stands for Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics which open up far more areas of opportunity for learning. Paisley YMCA are also known for our work in digital technology, an element we hope to expand upon even more with the arrival of our new kit! The young people are also passionate about the arts, as shown by their creations and drawings they present each week at club.

Both the freedom and proactivity of our STEM-based activities at weekly clubs’ showcase is one of the core elements to their enduring popularity with our young people. This is echoed by the young people themselves, as stated by one of our weekly STEM girls; “There’s actually activities we can do here and it’s not someone just talking and throwing information at you for an hour. Here you actually get to do activities and learn things, you’re not just sitting at a table.  

“You don’t have tests here, you do the activity and it makes it more enjoyable and makes you want to do it more.” 

While UK Science week may have come to an end, we intend on keeping our scientific roots growing all year round! And all information and tickets for our weekly clubs are available from Eventbrite.  

Follow us on Twitter (@YMCAPaisley) and Instagram (@paisleyymca) for more updates!  

The Early Action System Change Renfrewshire Project: A Study in Positive Change and Investigation                                                                              

Paisley YMCA were thrilled to have been included in the launch of Dartington Service Design Lab’s Change up! campaign on the 26th October. This online event was part of the Early Action System Change Renfrewshire Project, in which Paisley YMCA and many other youth organisations have been heavily involved, beginning with the first phase which consisted of the Early Action System Change Report which began in July 2020.  

The goal of the Early Action System Change involves Renfrewshire Council, Renfrewshire Health & Social Care Partnership, Dartington Service Design Lab, Engage Renfrewshire and other voluntary Youth sectors undertaking a three-year System Change Initiative (2018-2021). 

The initiative is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund Early Action System Change Fund that aims to identify and explore the roots cause of inequality and improving the emotional well-being of young people by exploring the effects of coercive control in their relationships.  

The Early Action System Change Report showcased research and reflections from over 500 young people and families across Renfrewshire, with individual workshops and information gathered from each voluntary sector. The purpose of these workshops was a focus on young people’s understanding and experience of coercive control in their relationships and their perceptions/experiences with community response or support. The report also sought to identify the most vulnerable groups of young people affected by coercive control in relationships and develop further ideas and solutions with their input.  

Each supporting sector showcased invaluable findings from their respective group of young people, with emphasis placed on their individual experiences and understanding of the nature of coercive control. Examples included RISE women’s group’s powerful open letter to Renfrewshire council; Action for Children’s focus group investigation on the familial relationships of young male offenders; The Linstone 20/20 project running 15 classroom workshops (13-15 years) with 100 young people reflecting on the many aspects of coercive control and how gender roles and expectations play their part; Create Paisley having four sessions over 2 days 17 young people aged 12 – 18 that focused on the effects of bullying, depression, anxiety and the creation of more safe spaces to explore mental health and many more examples from other participating Youth Based organisations. The report can be read in full on Dartington Early Action Page.  

Paisley YMCA sought to focus on understanding the experiences of coercive control amongst those with significant learning needs and achieved this through delivering workshops with 45 young people from Learner Development at West College Scotland.  

The results, categorised by our own Claire McGinley, showed that the young people in our investigation expressed anxiety over losing the relationships they had regarding coercive control as well as some difficulty finding a set definition for what constitutes as coercive control. Many expressed fear their concerns would not be treated seriously by authorities or believed many of these aspects were normal in teenage or young adult relationships.  

Our results also found that while materials for support in cases such as these are suitable for mainstream needs, more needs to be done to accommodate young people with specific learning needs as a vulnerable group. Our investigation came to the conclusion that there must be a concentrated and dedicated effort to support these young people to understand healthy and unhealthy aspects of interpersonal relationships, as well as clearer understanding of government laws concerning coercive control as well as how to report their struggles and feelings to those who will listen and take a proactive approach.  

The report marked the first phase of the Early Action System Change, with the findings and research collected in the report leading into the second phase, the Dartington Service Design Lab’s Change up! campaign on the 26th October. The online conference gathered representatives from the youth organisations represented in the report to further explore and discuss the findings of the report as well as a proactive approach to creating solutions.  

The event was hosted by Scotland Director Designate Catherine Rose Rankin and Scottish Director Kate Tobin for Dartington Service Design Lab and featured many contributors, including Paisley YMCA.  

Tobin stated in her introduction of the event: “Renfrewshire and others in this space have made tremendous moves towards centring young people’s voices that goes beyond just sharing experiences through surveys but working together with young people to meaningfully codesign and coproduce not just what is wanted, but also needed by blending data and evidence and this meaningful participation.”  

The research focus was the mental health of young people, and their experiences of coercive control in relationships. The project showed the results of a survey carried out from 10,000 young people, with 1 in 4 stating that they had experienced relationships with elements of coercive control.  

In his keynote speech, Head of Children and Justice Social Work John Trainer stated that the results went beyond the simple numbers of the survey and focused on the personal stories of young people to form definitive conclusions: 

“We asked those questions because as a professional social worker and working with the board of education, we actually identified that lots of the harm that was happening to young people was coming from families where gender-based violence and coercive control were very big issues. So, we asked some questions to try and surface what that looked like […] This is learned behaviour that starts way back in their early experience in family and young people confirmed that to us.” 

Renfrewshire Council Head of Schools Gordon McKinlay echoed this sentiment further, stating that the personal sharing and contribution of young people in this project should not be taken for granted: 

“It is a real privilege to work within a partnership that takes the views of our young people seriously and commit to making things better as a consequence. […] This afternoon’s event gives us all the opportunity to reflect on the vision and innovation of our young people who are challenging us to improve the services and supports for adolescent mental health and relationships across our services.”  

“It’s very important that we don’t view this participation of young people as something that we have to do, but something that we welcome and that will lead to real co-creation and systemic change in the long term.” 

The event showcased the work of Paisley YMCA in Social Circle project, with the data and sessions we had with our young people contributing greatly to forming the foundation of the study. It featured creative work and research from other exceptional youth organisations such as Create Paisley and The Star Project.  

The breakout rooms also featured important discussions about new methods that could be developed to help young people with their mental health and different ways to communicate their thoughts and feelings. They also allowed the participants to reflect and discuss our roles as youth workers and allies to young people, resulting in both new ideas and suggestions of how we can continue to improve and grow with the goal of educating and encouraging our young people to open up and discuss the trends and troubles in their lives.  

The event was an informative, collaborative and inspiring session that showcased the hard work of those involved as well as the importance and significance of empowering and helping our young people. As we reflect on the EASC project, we are proud to have been a part of an extensive and thorough examination of the complexities of the relationships of our young people with the goal to help, empower and assist them in every opportunity to combat inequality and help them build healthy and fulfilling life connections.