It’s A Full Exhibition of Trail-Blazing Women – International Women’s Day at STEM Girls  

The stars aligned for some perfect timing this week as we celebrated International Women’s Day this year on the night of our weekly female-led youth club STEM Girls.  

For this International Women’s Day, we challenged our STEM Girls to pick an inspiring woman in STEM history or present and create an artistic tribute to them on their mini canvases. Once they were finished, we displayed them in a mini exhibition showcasing their artistic expression and admiration for the many amazing women who paved the way in STEM fields before them.  

Our STEM Girls show us every week what amazing young leaders they are – not just with their keen interests in STEM-related fields but in their intelligence and kindness to each other. Several of our older STEM Girls are now volunteers who go out of their way to help younger members and the group always takes time to help and give advice for those who need it with their projects.  

As we continue our future STEM Girls projects, we do so with the knowledge that International Women’s Day involves celebrating the incredible women of the future as much as it does the past, which is always our aim every Wednesday.  

To sign up for STEM Girls or any of our other free weekly youth clubs, register now on our Eventbrite page and follow our social media for news and updates.  

Youth Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 at Paisley YMCA

Last week, we had been taking part in Children’s Mental Health Week 2023 to highlight and help young people with their mental health across the UK from 6th – 12th February. The theme for this year is Let’s Connect, emphasising young people making meaningful social connections with each other and with adults they can trust to help them.  

Many young people are still feeling the effects of loneliness and isolation as a result of the past several years. From the nationwide lockdown and the increased use of social media, many young people have suffered from lack of connection in their relationships with adults and other young people. Despite the lifting of lockdown measures, many young people still struggle to connect with others for many reasons including bullying, stress and struggles they may experience in their school or home life.  

These factors can have a devastating effect on the mental health of young people. According to a 2022 study from University of Stirling, approximately one in four young people aged 8 -17 referred to mental health services in Scotland have reported suicidal thoughts or behaviours. More information from this study can be found here. Youth work provides a valuable resource for young people who may feel isolated from the world around them and unable to make new connections.  

At Paisley YMCA, we provide a safe and open space for young people to build friendships with each other outside of their schools and regular social circle. This provides them a chance to be completely themselves without fear of judgement in those environments, which is an invaluable resource for the mental health of young people. Many of our young people have told us the positive effect coming to our weekly clubs has had ; 

“I feel happy because I go to Paisley YMCA and do cool things.” 

“3D printing and being creative makes me feel good!” 

“I feel very supported and safe in Paisley YMCA.” 

“I prefer playing Dungeons and Dragons here because it’s more inclusive.”  

“I feel like I can be myself at Paisley YMCA.” 

“Getting to see my friends and play games with them gives me something to look forward to.” 

“I have lots to do that I can’t do from home.” 

For Children’s Mental Health Week 2023, it is important to think and reflect on the important work that still needs to be done to help vulnerable young people. In providing a free space for young people to come and hang out with a whole new social circle, our YMCA opens up a chance to make new connections. Our club activity often focuses around STEM –related activity and providing young people with tech and opportunities for them to discover and build their skills and talents. However, it is equally important for us to provide a space of safety and fun for young people to feel as happy and fulfilled as they possibly can.  

Register to our weekly club activity for free on our Eventbrite page and follow us on Twitter (@YMCAPaisley), Instagram (paisleyymca), Facebook (We Are Paisley YMCA) and our official website to keep up with club activity and the progress of our young people.  

Welcome back to Paisley YMCA!

We are delighted to welcome all young people aged between 7 – 18 across Renfrewshire and beyond back to our space this week for our youth club schedule beginning in 2023! 

All of your favourite clubs are back, free and accessible to all young people at Paisley YCMA. Our current club schedule is; 

Mecha Monday (Ages 8 –17) – Every Monday 6pm – 8pm. MECHA MONDAYS are a weekly club where young people can come together for coding and stem/tech-based activities! With coding software and PCs, this is a great club for young people to come and develop their tech-savvy skills with our youth workers. 

Connecting Communities (Ages 18+) – Every Tuesday 1pm – 3pm. Connecting Communities is a free daytime Tuesday club for adults in Paisley area looking to develop their digital and tech skills! The space will include skill-building workshops including coding, graphic design and more with help from our experienced youth workers. If you are an adult in Paisley looking to build up some skills, come in and see what you’re capable of!

STEM Girls (Ages 8 –17) – Every Wednesday 6pm – 8pm. STEM Girls is a space for girls aged 8-17 to come together and have fun with STEM and STEAM focused activities and interactive workshops; Coding, VR, Digital Media, Robotics, Digital Art, Cyber Security, AI – these are just some of the areas we explore! We highlight the importance of female representation in STEM careers, we lift each other up and we have lots of fun! STEM Girls is about empowering, inspiring and believing in one another. We are Coders, Gamers, Artists, Engineers, Entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts – We are STEM Girls! 

Future Friday (Ages 8 –17) – Every Friday 6pm – 8pm. Friday nights are for fun! Play games, make friends, code and create new digital projects. Do you have a favourite game you like to play? Do you have a digital project you would like to get involved in? Have you created something you would like to share with others? Have you had a busy week and you just want to hang out and talk to friends? We are here for you! 

Satur-Play (Ages 8 –17) – Every Saturday 1pm – 3:30. Satur-play is a space for young people aged 8-17 to come together and have fun playing any kind of game you can think of! From Dungeons and Dragons games, console gaming, card and board games or crafting!  

Each are our clubs are open to register for free every week on our official Eventbrite page. All details will also be available on our social media pages, as well as all important upcoming projects and posts about our exciting club activity. We look forward to seeing you there!  

An End of Year Message from Paisley YMCA – 2022

2022 was a transformative year for Paisley YMCA. Following the re-opening of our space in 2021, we continued to develop our space and expand our youth work and support even further into the community. We developed a youth work schedule consisting of our free youth work clubs with a significant increase in registration and plenty of new faces!

We introduced new equipment for our space including podcast microphones and soundboard, printing and mug press, vinyl cutter, new craft materials and gaming equipment. We also began exciting new projects including collaborations with Paisley Museum and other Paisley youth groups, hosted our first hackathon, grew our very own food on our smart gardens in the window of our space, our Summer of Fun programme and many of our older young people becoming volunteers. We also added new elements to our existing clubs such as the addition of Dungeons and Dragons to our Saturday gaming club, STEM and coding projects to develop new technical skills and expansion on the activities young people can access in our space, as well as expanding our social media reach gaining new followers and traction.

We also developed a group for adults in Paisley to develop their technical skills and spend time with others called Connecting Communities. Our priorities are primarily youth work and young people but we view this club as another step of reaching out to the Paisley community to offer free support and care to those in need. As we reflect on the year, we look back with the perspective of how much we have developed since re-opening our doors following the impact of the fire that destroyed our makerspace in 2020 and the difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. We approached this year as one of healing and growth and we intend to carry that energy forward as this year comes to an end and another new beginning opens up.

We would like to thank our staff, members, funders, collaborators and most importantly our young people for helping us to rebuild and expand upon what we can offer to the community of Paisley and East Renfrewshire. As we begin our journey into 2023, we intend to continue our projects and ambitions to make Paisley YMCA a safe, welcoming and fun place for all to visit. We can’t wait to see faces old and new in our space in 2023!

Happy New Year, everyone!

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.