A Interactive Day of Fun with SoundPlay Projects! 📟

Our Summer of Fun project comes to an end with another collaboration from SoundPlay Projects as part of Conversations with Installations!

Partnering with Soundplay Projects, last week saw the display of a digital mural at Paisley YMCA for the general public to interact with and experience the science and technology of creating it. This is one of the many projects from Soundplay that integrates art and sound with moving pictures to create an interactive experience.

Founder of Soundplay Projects and Musician, Bal Cooke states, “We are really happy with the results – we weren’t quite sure how people would react to something like this out on the high street but the reaction has been so positive, across all age groups too.”

It shows the impact of combining the technology with natural artistic creativity in order to inspire our young people and get them thinking about the impact they could make. Soundplay Projects and Paisley YMCA emphasise the importance of accommodating new audiences and inclusivity, especially young people to encourage them to begin thinking about the way these methods can be used, as Cooke explains;

“I think young people like seeing technology used in unexpected ways like this – combining elements like sensors, sound and digital visuals. It can really fire the imagination and I hope it inspires young people to think about creating their own digital work.”

For more information regarding Soundplay Projects, please check out their website for details.

Partnering With SoundPlay Projects for a Spaced Out experience! 😊

Throughout our Summer of Fun project this year, we have organised many new activities and ways for our young people to spend their summer with Paisley YMCA, such as our Summer Gaming Cafes and our VR training projects in various schools and community centres throughout the Paisley area.

Many of these projects also featured collaborations with other youth organisations, who are just as invested in creating a fun and educational environment for Paisley’s youth as we are. One example of this was through our partnering with SoundPlay Projects to run two separate workshops on the 4th and 5th August. These projects gave our young people the chance to combine their scientific side with their musical creativity to create their own imaginative works.

Founder of Soundplay Projects and Musician, Bal Cooke explains, “These workshops combined low-tech ways of sound making (using ping pong balls, paper cups and elastic bands) with high tech video manipulation of the clips we filmed. It was brilliant to see what the young people came up with, creating sounds and objects that we’d never have thought of. “

These projects utilise the technology provided by youth organisations to encourage young people to develop new skills and ideas that will go on the serve them later in life. As Cooke explains:

“I think these kind of projects can open up creative possibilities in digital technology, beyond the world of games, smartphones, social media, etc. All those platforms are totally valid but are so much part of young people’s lives already.

“We are keen on the idea of playing with technology to create something unique and think that really can inspire others to try new things or even just to look at technology in a different way.”

Collaborative projects between youth groups such as this allow for a greater expansion of creative projects to engage our young people and working together allowed us to really bring this project to life. Cooke states:

“Paisley YMCA bring so many benefits; they have great facilities and staff, as well as brilliant connections with the community. They also share our ethos that projects should be driven by the young people rather than try and impose stuff on them. We hope to work with them again soon!”

Likewise, we are also extremely thankful to Soundplay Projects for this collaboration and we’re very excited to see what we can do next!

For more information regarding Soundplay Projects, please check out their website for details.

A New Chapter – Exploring the next steps for Paisley YMCA

With Paisley YMCA opening its doors again this week for the first time since its closure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the effects of the last year have marked a significant point in the charity’s long history.

The organisation was originally founded in 1832, when evangelist David Naismith visited Paisley and established the “Paisley Young Men’s Sabbath Morning Society for Prayer and Religious Purposes”. This organisation would bring together young men every Sunday for prayer and biblical study, while during the week they would engage in clubs, sports and other leisure activities. This would later become the Paisley YMCA we know today.

Since then, they have continued to offer exceptional help and support for young people living in Paisley at their base in William Street, with development workshops and access to equipment to help young people in the workspace to educational and fun clubs for younger residents.

However, the pandemic brought many changes and challenges to our work format. With many members suddenly having to work from home and adapt to the technology and communication required to keep work going, these circumstances prompted a re-evaluation of how Paisley YMCA could continue to provide our services without the advantage of a physical space. Many of the Makerspace clubs moved online, with members now required to sign in online and communicate via Zoom.

Darran Gillian, Youth and Programme Development Manager for Paisley YMCA, states his belief that the pandemic has had this effect on the regular makerspace clubs and activities that YMCA run, as many of them have made the online move:

“Young people are experiencing unprecedented change and disruption in their life’s due to COVID-19. The restricted access to front-line youth activity has severely impacted on young people’s learning in our Makerspace and outreach activities. The challenge for Paisley YMCA now is how to continue supporting young people’s identified needs now that centre-based youth work opens up again.” 

But the effects of the pandemic weren’t the only difficult circumstances for the organisation to overcome. In February of this year, the Paisley YMCA base in William Street fell victim to a horrific fire attack that resulted in the destruction of the property. The attack meant a needed change in base for activities, which provided yet another setback to potentially reopening its doors.

However, the securing of a space in 39 High Street in the Paisley area and the easing of restrictions has allowed the YMCA to finally reopen its doors to the public with a summer schedule of activities lined up for its young residents, including a Summer Gaming Café event taking place twice a week. Darran states that this is only the beginning of the future work Paisley YMCA hopes to accomplish this year:

“I’m pleased to say that we have an exciting line-up of STEAM-based activities starting with our Summer of Play programme where we have turned our high street offices into a gaming cafe for young people to hang out and have fun. 

“We will soon be launching our AWS DeepMind Racer AI-based autonomous race team to compete with other teams worldwide and as we build back better from the William Street fire, we now look at this space as the new Mecca for town centre-based youth activities”.

This reopening marks a positive step forward in rebuilding the face-to-face connection Paisley YMCA has maintained in the local community for over 150 years and also shows the growth and perseverance the staff and youth workers have accomplished over this difficult year. With elements of online communication that were made necessary by the pandemic now being evaluated as permanent additions to the way youth work is carried out while maintaining that face-to-face communication is still vital for lots of vulnerable young people living in Paisley, Paisley YMCA hopes to continue to demonstrate positive growth and providing vital care.

We’re very excited for the future holds and we hope to see many of you over the summer!

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