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Community / Local charity scoops team prize at national youth work awards

Scoot Coutts and Wayne Leask (centre) at the awards ceremony.

LOCAL youth-led charity OPEN is celebrating after being named team of the year at the National Youth Work Awards.

The charity said it is “incredibly proud of all its staff, volunteers, and trustees”.

OPEN’s initiatives range from peer education workshops to ‘Da Cafe’, a youth café that provides a safe and welcoming space for young people.

One key piece of peer education work was a pioneering study on young people’s attitudes to alcohol and drugs, which was created last year.

Peer research on alcohol and drugs culture among young people provides valuable results

Last year OPEN became the isles’ first youth-led charity, transitioning from being a project of Voluntary Action Shetland.

Emma Coutts, 16, spoke of the practical skills and confidence she has gained through her involvement with OPEN since 2022.

“I joined the peer research team and helped on the Alcohol and Other Drugs project,” she said.

“Through this I carried out my own research and got my PDC [participative democracy certificate].”

Youthlink Scotland, which organised the awards, said OPEN demonstrates a practical and effective approach to youth work.

“Its activities are designed by and for young people, ensuring relevance and impact, meaning that OPEN not only offers immediate support but also equips young people with the tools to influence and lead in their community,” it said.

“Through OPEN, Shetland’s youth are not just preparing for the future; they’re shaping it.”

OPEN itself sought to thank all of its funders, as well as Voluntary Action Shetland for supporting it over the past decade and in becoming an independent charity.

It also wanted to thank Youthlink Scotland for the “national recognition, which we’re incredibly grateful for”.

“Most of all, our biggest gratitude goes to the OPEN staff, volunteers, board of trustees, and trustee mentors, for achieving this incredible team award,” the charity added.

“If you’re interested in finding out more on the wide range of volunteering opportunities and training OPEN can provide, then please get in touch.”

It can be contacted on openproject@shetland.org, by phone 01595 743950 or on Facebook

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