From the 9th – 13th April 2018, one of Glasgow’s biggest news networks Glasgow Live ran a series of articles on Scottish Sports Futures (SSF), focusing on some of the young people involved with the charity and how sport has changed their lives. Photojournalist Elaine Livingston met with three young people who are involved with SSF
programmes, Saskia Barclay (16), Andrew Marley (20), and Edward Fitzpatrick (21), as well as Twilight Programme Coordinator Preeti Jassal (24), and SSF celebrity ambassador Chris Forbes (35).
Saskia, Andrew and Edward all became involved with SSF after their local youth and sports clubs partnered up with SSF’s Active East programme, although it was a chance encounter is what pushed Saskia to begin her coaching
journey with Budhill Football Academy:
“I started coaching at Budhill because my wee brother was playing there and I would stand on the side-line giving him direction and encouragement. The team manager told me I should get involved in coaching, so I did.”
Budhill Football Academy are one of Active East’s partners, and it was through this partnership that Saskia became involved in Active East’s Active Champion programme, which helps young people aged 14 – 25 complete training and certification in sports, physical activity, and volunteering.
Andrew credits Scottish Sports Futures’ unique approach to youth work, combining it with sport in an educational but informal environment, as being a great way to help young people see the opportunities open to them in their local communities, and help them build sustainable pathways for their own futures.
“I think youth work as a whole is so good because you’re helping to train and develop young people in an informal way and in a place where they feel safe and have fun. Not all education has to be formal. To give young people a broader education and insight gives them opportunities to take on leadership roles and gain skills that they can use in their pathways into adult life and work.”
After coming through the Active Champion programme themselves, Edward and Andrew have both become Mini Mentors, helping to mentor Active Champions like Saskia through their volunteering journey. As young people who have taken on youth worker roles, both Andrew and Edward believe that young people becoming youth workers is key to helping tackle issues facing young people today.
“Your teenage years can be tough. I think it’s really important to support young people through it and I think it’s great if it’s coming from someone in their age group who they can relate to and has been in their shoes.” (Andrew)
“I became a youth worker as soon as I was allowed to at 16. Young people should be youth workers, they can relate to the people involved whether you’re working with them in the clubs or training them.” (Edward)
Preeti spoke about how working on Scottish Sports Futures’ Shell Twilight Basketball programme has given her the opportunity to take the theoretical topics she studied at university and put them into practise in her role as a coordinator.
“I really enjoy working with the young people. My role involves working a lot with inactive girls and young women, trying to get them involved in sport and empowering them to progress in life. To see the girls starting off in the programs and build their confidence and skills is brilliant. That was what I focused on in my studies at university so I’m really passionate about it. It’s been really nice to stop writing about it and actually put it into action.”
This is something Edward is also keen to emulate once he has completed his studies in product design:
“I’ve been doing youth work for eight years and I don’t want to leave that behind when I start working full-time. I want to combine what I’ve learned at university with my youth work and find a way to link the two in my design work and career.”
Stand-up comedian, and former basketball player, Chris Forbes became involved with Scottish Sports Futures after taking part in a charity comedy night:
“The charity knew that I had played basketball to quite a high level when I was younger and they thought I would be an ideal fit as an ambassador for them, as basketball is one of the core sports they use across their various programs to reach the young people they work with. They asked me to become involved straight after the gig.”
“I’m really enjoying being an ambassador. I feel like my contribution is small in comparison to what the full time staff do, but I’m really happy to help if I can. When you go along to the charity’s events, and see the difference they are
making, it’s just brilliant.”