Volunteers’ team spirit is inspiring entrepreneurial trailblazers at YE Scotland

AS the world becomes more complex and competitive, the need to help young people develop the skills to succeed grows significantly.

Now, the country’s leading business education charity, Young Enterprise (YE) Scotland, is responding with the new #enterpriseforall campaign – yet its success would not be possible without the support of volunteers who share the group’s entreprenurial ethos. 

“Our volunteers come from all ages and backgrounds and it’s all about the attitude they bring. It’s the ability to connect with young people, to listen, to inspire, not to judge and to be supportive – that is important,” says YE Scotland’s CEO, Geoff Leask.

“Many act as business volunteers supporting a student team on one of our company-based enterprise programmes, and others mentor college students. 

“We also have an army of volunteers supporting our thriving community at our Rouken Glen headquarters with catering, gardening and maintenance activities. 

“Some, like Peter Nixon – who only stepped down last year after 31 years as a volunteer – have made indelible and outstanding contributions to charity, but the fact remains we always need more to step forward!”

Paul Kelly has been another stalwart of YE Scotland. A retired Police Officer, he is hands-on at Rouken Glen. he said: “Predominantly I work with young people who participate in the Pathways to Enterprise programme. 

“This is where I help with the practical activities on site – building, fixing and growing. I also drive the minibus to pick up those young people from school. 

“I pretty much work closely with the whole team and feel very much a part of the YE Scotland family. I also take part in discussions and developments of the site.

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Fortrose Academy students who recently benefited from 
volunteer support

 

“When Rouken Glen was closed to activities due to Covid-19, I helped to create outdoor learning space and convert the greenhouse into a wonderful workshop. This involved ripping out loads of old equipment and walls – all during a particularly hot summer which made the task even more challenging. We had to create more space and I was very happy to lead the project.

“I have seen first-hand how young people grow and learn within the Pathways Programme.

“I believe that every young person should have an equal start and opportunity in life and I see YE Scotland as trying to make that happen. It just makes so much sense for young people to learn by doing.”

Denise Clark volunteers as a YE Scotland business adviser and mentor, working in schools across the Highlands to deliver the charity’s flagship Company Programme. She echoes Paul’s experience and acknowledges the personal satisfaction she gains from the role. 

She said: “Watching the students grow in confidence throughout the Company Programme is so rewarding. I have been blown away by the professionalism of the school teams. They make some amazing products and their presentations at the area finals are outstanding. 

“I worked with a local school who had a support for learning class that wanted to take part but were unsure of how their students would cope with the programme. 

“I spent a lot of time encouraging both the students and the staff to complete the programme and they grew in confidence very quickly. One of the students went on to win an award at the Scottish Finals. The programme had made her believe that she could do anything she wanted too. It had changed her whole idea of what she was capable of.

“With others in the YE area team, we work together to create an atmosphere which allows the students to develop and gain confidence in themselves. 

“The Company Programme is a great opportunity for them all as they prepare to move on from school regardless of what their career path turns out to be.”

As Paul also reflects, YE Scotland creates stories behind their activities, and it is these stories that they and the young people take with them.

“One of my favourite groups to work with was an inspiring team of young students with additional support needs. 

“They were asked to create a solution to a community need. They identified that on the site at Rouken Glen there is an abundance of growing space. 

“To help with this, the young team, designed and made ‘Hedgehog Hotels’ that they would take back to school and then adopt hedgehogs from a local rescue centre. It was a wonderfully enjoyable experience and a great story for them to tell.”
yes.org.uk

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Assisting charity was a pressing matter for Craig

BUSINESSMAN Craig Johnstone, pictured below, is a YE Scotland alumni and benefited hugely from the mentoring he received. 

Now an entrepreneur in his own right and MD of education tech company, Giglets, he is collaborating with YE Scotland on the production and roll-out of enterprise teaching materials in Gaelic.

The ‘Ready To Go’ learning programme includes fun and accessible lessons for learners of primary and early secondary school age and gives them opportunities to explore and respond to enterprising challenges.

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From designing a festival with an eco-friendly theme to creating their own chocolate box, these lesson plans provide engaging scenarios for learners to develop a wide range of skills and capabilities.

Now available to Gaelic Medium Education, the materials also include full, detailed – yet flexible – Curriculum for Excellence-linked lesson plans for teachers and the supporting learner resources.

Craig credits YE Scotland for giving him the confidence to embark on his own successful entrepreneurial journey. 

He said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be working with YE Scotland to take the charity’s aims and vision for #enterpriseforall into the country’s Gaelic teaching schools.

“I know, personally, the value of the skills that can be developed through enterprise learning including communication, problem solving, teamwork, creativity and presentation skills – all of which link to many curricular areas such as Health and Wellbeing, Literacy, Numeracy, Social Studies, Expressive Arts and Technologies while placing learning in real life contexts.” 

 

This article was brought to you in partnership with Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) as part of The Herald’s Future of Education campaign

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992