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Published 02 December 2016

A youth worker has been recognised for his commitment and support to young people in West Dunbartonshire at a special award ceremony. 

West Dunbartonshire Youth Alliance Awards celebrate the remarkable achievement and dedication of young people who are helping to change and improve the lives of youngsters in West Dunbartonshire.

Jay Smith, an apprentice Youth Worker with Y-Sort-It, won both the Modern Apprentice Award and the Outstanding Achievement Award.

Jay impressed judges with his work ethic and his commitment to taking on additional responsibility in his role.  Jay has acted as an ambassador for Y-Sort-It and given numerous presentations to groups of up to 100 young people,  has participated in several case study videos and attended conferences.

Jay works with  the Buddy Up Mentoring Service, and in addition organised an excursion to the West Highland Way to raise money for the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland ( CHAS).

More than 120 young people aged  between 12  and 25 attended the event at the Dumbuck Hotel, Dumbarton, to hear inspiring stories and acknowledge the efforts, achievements and outstanding contributions made by young people within their communities, at schools, workplaces and to families. 

Ryan McMohan won the Creativity Award for his outstanding involvement and input into the school theatrical shows within Our Lady and St Patricks Secondary.  His relaxed manner was described as being is pivotal in building positive relationships with cast members.  He was recognised for being a role model and for his enthusiasm, passion to succeed and attitude which are a great example to other pupils.

The Vale Of Leven Academy LGBTI & Community Group won the Diversity Award which highlights equality, diversity and inclusion in the community.   The group was awarded for promoting and encouraging respect, tolerance and understanding across all races, faiths, genders, cultures, communities and identities.

Youth Horizons/Activity Agreements Group won the Environmental Award for their work as part of their activity agreements with the Council’s Working4U team and senior phase officers. The group volunteered to work in partnership with “The Mountains and the Peoples” and Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Rangers on various conservation projects including clean-up & litter pick projects.

Jillian Farrell who represents Scotland at golf won the Health and Wellbeing award for her Fit4Life project which introduces pupils to golf as an activity which is not covered in the curriculum.  Jillian’s coaching skills has given kids the opportunity to experience golf at school. 

Caring Eilidh Robertson was awarded the Unsung Hero award for her care and support of her disabled brother. Eilidh also helps out at a disabled unit to support carers and volunteers during day trips and outings. In addition, she’s a Ranger in the Girl Guides and volunteers at the Rainbow unit as well as at Dalreoch Primary School and the Early Education Child care Unit. She has also organised a number of different events and was involved in a Young Enterprise group at Dumbarton Academy.

Sarah Stott won the Volunteering award for her giving her time to support sports within West Dunbartonshire. Sarah, Treasurer of the Sport Youth Group, tutors new members and is also Secretary of the athletics club. Over the years Sarah has dedicated hundreds if not thousands of hours to volunteering.

Councillor Kath Ryall, Convener of Corporate Services, said: “The Youth Alliance awards are a great way to give young people a platform to share their experiences and more importantly, get recognition for the great work they do.  

“We are very fortunate in West Dunbartonshire that we have so many caring, committed and helpful young people who are happy to give up their free time for the good of others. I would like to congratulate the award winners and everyone else who was nominated for these great awards.”

Councillor Tommy Rainey, Depute Convener of Corporate Services, added: “As a Council we are committed to improving the lives of our young people.  The young people who have been nominated in these awards are outstanding citizens and we are proud to publically thank them for their commitment to our young residents.

The event was hosted by Harry O’Neill who spent time in care and is now an advocate for young people in care. 

Harry said: “I would like to extend my thanks to everyone for giving me the opportunity to celebrate success with such inspiring individuals and groups of rising stars; it was a truly special event.”

 Jim Sweeney MBE, CEO of Youth Link Scotland, Convener of Educational Services, Councillor Michelle McGinty and Stephen Brooks, Manager of Working 4U were among those who presented the awards.

Jim said: “It was a real honour and privilege to hear the incredibly positive things our young people are doing both for themselves and others. The youth work on show was first class and the many workers, voluntary and paid, and the many young peer mentors should all be proud of their efforts.”

Stephen said:  We are committed to providing support to our young people and we are delighted to see what can be achieved through hard work and dedication. I’m sure this is the first of many achievements these committed young people will experience in their lives.”