Local woman in line for national award in recognition of her work with Barra youngsters

Katie Denehy is being recognised for her work with Barra's young people
Katie Denehy is being recognised for her work with Barra's young people

Katie Denehy, Community Education Worker at Castlebay Community School, has been shortlisted for the National Youth Worker of the Year Awards 2014.

The Awards, run by YouthLink Scotland, recognise and celebrate outstanding achievement with young people by managers, practitioners, peer educators, teams and individuals who work within Scotland’s youth work sector.

Castlebay Community School is an all-through school for three to 18 year olds on the island.

As a Community School, supportive partners and parents run events like football and games on Saturdays, the Youth Council, Youth Club and Youth Café. Katie Denehy is integral to delivering these opportunities for local young people out of school hours.

Mairi MacLean, one of the young people that Katie works with, says her work has made a real difference on the island: “As a young person and a member of Barra Youth Council, I have directly benefitted from Katie’s involvement.

Her work has hugely affected the lives of many young people. She has made us believe we have a say in what happens in our community and that we can change and improve things.

“Her involvement and encouragement meant we submitted a public petition to Holyrood, which resulted in free Wi-Fi now being available on our local ferry and a better Orange phone signal, this now means we can have mobile phones, a big part of teenage life!”

As part of her work with local youngsters, Katie organises the Youth Council which recently has had huge success in delivering improved mobile phone signal on the island.

She has encouraged the pupils to hold movie nights in the school which are very popular in a community with no fixed local cinema.

Katie has supported pupils through their Youth Achievement and Volunteer Awards and is also involved in local conservation work, taking groups of young people on camping weekends to the uninhabited island of Mingulay to ‘beat the bracken’.

Suzanne Forman, Secondary Depute Head Teacher at the School said: “Katie Denehy has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the young people of Barra and Vatersay over the last 13 years.

“Katie is to be commended for managing her role as a youth worker alongside being a mother of five school age children and working with her husband to run their kayaking and hostel business.

“She helps young people develop ideas about how to make the community a better place and she works with all the young people in making this reality.”

And commenting, Jim Sweeney, Chief Executive of YouthLink Scotland, said: “The finalists from across Scotland have demonstrated outstanding commitment and passion to changing the lives of young people for the better.

“From youth volunteers who have overcome harrowing and challenging circumstances in their own lives to mentor and support their peers to innovative projects that have brought the generations together.”

Three finalists have been shortlisted in each of the 11 categories.

The winners will be announced and presented with their award at the National Youth Worker of the Year Awards Dinner in Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on Thursday 13th March.

The event will be hosted by broadcaster and Forth One DJ, Grant Stott and the awards presented by Scotland’s Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell MSP.