Dropping in on a Friday Night – The improvement this fun club can have on mental health

One of the biggest social discussions throughout the pandemic is the impact it has had on the mental health of young people. With the uncertainty of changing times and ways of learning and communicating having changed drastically, this has proven to be a confusing and often difficult time for young people.

With the pressures of keeping up with education and activities despite unconventional methods, the importance of being able to relax and de-stress during free time is now more important than ever. The Friday Night Drop In Makerspace group run by Paisley YMCA is a group designed with this in mind. The club is a drop in session for young people aged between 8 -17 to simply relax, engage in leisure activity and have fun without any set goals or ongoing projects.

Youth Programme Coordinator Claire McGinley states that the impact of this time is crucial for young people to relax from the stress of our current times:

“I love this club because it is a space where you come along and you just be you. For young people, there is a lot of pressure and expectations on them and a lot attached to being a young person now, I feel.”

“But young people need time to relax and just chill out, which is why we created that specific space with no agenda, with no particular goals in mind because it depends on the night how the young people feel. Do they to play an RPG, do they want to just talk about something, tell jokes, do some drawing? There’s value in just being and chilling out. We have a pretty packed schedule; we offer a range of clubs and skills and I think it’s important we also offer a space that says ‘just be’.”

The Friday Night Drop In sessions offer a valuable and understated free space for young people to simply have fun, which is every bit as crucial as developing skills and taking place in science quizzes. For more information about the Friday Night Drop In and how to get your tickets, please check the Paisley YMCA Makerspace List.

Knowledge is Power – Why STEM Girls remains integral to Paisley YMCA

STEM Girls remains one of the most popular Makerspace weekly groups run by Paisley YMCA. Taking place every Wednesday evening, STEM Girls offers a space for girls aged 8 – 17 to come together, test their knowledge, engage in exciting new projects and hang out with their friends.

Each week invites new discussions and revelations as our participants discuss the world of STEM, their feelings around society and many fascinating anecdotes that showcase just how talented and creative our young people are. The girls are also invited to have their knowledge tested every week with some brain-teasing quizzes and tests to their science skills.

Of all of the Makerspace groups run by Paisley YMCA, STEM Girls is a passion project from Youth Programme Coordinator Claire McGinley, who elaborates about what makes the group so near and dear to her heart:

“It’s a space that I really wish I had when I was younger. It’s a space I wish I had been a part of. It’s a safe space for girls and young women to just explore stem with no judgement. And we encourage making mistakes.

“Creating a space specific for young women and girls is always successful to their development and their confidence and success of building upon their skills. That’s backed up by lots of independent research.”

In spite of the success of the other Paisley YMCA weekly run groups, Claire felt that the girls in particular needed a space to grow and express themselves through STEM:

“Initially all our clubs were really successful but 80% of them were boys and I could see the potential in some of the young girls and they were getting swallowed up, so we thought we needed to create a space for them specifically to flourish.”

We have many more exciting projects planned for STEM Girls in the future and we always aim to make it as fun as it is informative and educational for our enthusiastic attendees. Keep your eyes on STEM Girls in the future, as we’re excited for what the future holds!

For more information about STEM Girls and how to get your Wednesday evening tickets, please check the Paisley YMCA Makerspace List.

An Explosion of Creativity and Discussion – About The Social Circle

The Social Circle is one of our newest additions to the Makerspace Paisley YMCA run groups.

The Social Circle aims to be a space for young people to come together and discuss important social issues, the online world and building relationships with others while giving their own unique perspectives. In particular, the group aims to explore and discuss nurturing healthy relationships and how the digital age has changed and reshaped our worldviews with different topics each week.

The world is a complicated and difficult place to understand sometimes and the value of a group like Social Circle is that it allows young people to express their feelings and emotions in the digital age. It offers a safe environment for self-expression with the goal of building healthy relationships with themselves and each other.

This kind of self-expression lends itself to writing and creativity extremely well and the young people that attend our groups love any opportunity to express their artistic or creative writing side. Creative writing is an element that may be incorporated into the Social Circle as a method of allowing young people to communicate and express their feelings in a healthy and important way, be it through fiction or non-fiction.

Youth Programme Coordinator Claire McGinley states that she believes the creativity of the young people who attend the group and the discussions the group has can lend very well to this concept:

“I think everyone has a story in them, I definitely think some people have many more stories than that. But our young people and absolutely all young people are just hugely creative. And sometimes they don’t even know it, which is a real shame but that’s what we’re here to support with, unlocking and unleashing that creativity.

“I think it’s a really good angle to take with Social Circle because the issues and scenarios we discuss in social circle are very real but they’re quite challenging. And I think sometimes to take a creative approach to that and tell a creative story means you can look at it from lots of different angles. So, I think that’s a really good club to get a bit of creative writing with.”

The sessions in the Social Circle aim to be open, honest and most of all, fun! We’re very excited about the possibilities of this group and where it can lead with the emotional and creative intelligence of all who attend it.

The Social Circle group takes place on Tuesday evening each week. For more information on signing up and purchasing a free ticket, please check the Paisley YMCA Makerspace List.

Making Space For Young People – How Paisley YMCA continues help engage young social groups

The Makerspace groups run by Paisley YMCA are social youth clubs run by the youth workers and programme coordinators, with the aim of educating and engaging young people in group activities and unique perspectives to allow them to flex both their creativity and freedom to express themselves. They’ve been a staple of the resources provided by Paisley YMCA and have maintained a consistent streak of engagement and energy from their participants.

But what impact do activities like these have on the young people that attend them and how do they survive during a global pandemic?

Through chatting with Paisley YMCA Youth Programme Coordinator Claire McGinley, she was able to offer us some insight into the impact and benefits these clubs have had and how their way of working has changed following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Makerspace clubs have been a set of passion projects from Paisley YMCA and have allowed young people to express their creativity and develop their skills in a positive and affirming environment. Claire expands on the impact that these spaces have had in the young attendees, as she tells us: “It’s created connections that they otherwise wouldn’t have had with people out-with their family or immediate circles. They’ve been able to see their friends from clubs and it also gives them protected space to just be themselves. The impact of the clubs are participation and increased confidence.

“Sometimes the young people don’t actually realise that they’re learning something because it’s not a style of formal learning, it’s something that they’re choosing to participate in. It’s informal learning but they’re learning really valuable skills such as coding, design-thinking, programming, all these types of things building their confidence and building their skills.”

Each of the Makerspace clubs now have an online session on Zoom, with free tickets being available online from Makerspace every week. The schedule consists of the Social Circle (a space for young people to have important conversations about relationships and society) on Tuesdays, STEM Girls (a club for young women and girls to get together to talk about STEM and participate in fun quizzes) on Wednesdays, the Friday Night Drop in (a free space for young people to come and relax with fun activities) and Digital Design Club on Saturdays (dedicated to digital projects for our young people to develop and showcase).

When elaborating upon the differences of having the Makerspace clubs move online as opposed to the previous meets in person, Claire explains that they have brought new challenges and different ways of learning to the table:

“It’s two completely different worlds. When we were in person at the Makerspace, it was easier to create those connections with young people, it was easier for the young people to create connections with each other and I think there is a lot to be said about that kind of creative atmosphere and it’s quite inspiring. It was really fast-moving, exciting and easy to just flow.

“And then when we moved online, I didn’t realise how challenging it would be at the beginning. I think the team have done amazingly and I think the young people have been absolutely brilliant, they’re still choosing to show up every single week and participate even when it’s harder and they can’t have conversations in the same way with their friends in that type of environment. It’s definitely been more challenging.”

However, there have also been benefits and learning experiences to this new, unconventional way of club activity: “The great thing about it is that people have not had to travel and we’ve been able to reach more rural communities. People who couldn’t travel have been able to connect from home. But it’s definitely a much more challenging environment on video conferencing.”

The Makerspace Clubs are one of the most distinguishing and valuable resources offered by Paisley YMCA and even with the challenges of a pandemic, they continue to be an exciting and important space for young people to learn and grow in a positive environment. And in spite of the difficulties video conferencing has brought, they still continue to educate and inspire.

For more information about the clubs and how to purchase tickets, please check the Makerspace list of dates and availability.

Young voices @ Paisley YMCA AGM 2021

The highlight of our most recent AGM was without a doubt, hearing from our young people about their experiences of Paisley YMCA over this past year. In this short film, we hear conversations about what they love about Paisley YMCA, the challenges of online youth clubs and the importance of friendship and connection.


Young voices @ Paisley YMCA AGM 2021

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.