by Councillor Eva Murray

“Youth Work Changes Lives” - we’ve heard politicians use it time and time again but how many have seen the reality of what those words truly mean?

I’m proud to be able to put my hand up and say I have. I know the difference youth workers can make to young people’s lives because I was involved in organisations with youth work at the heart of it before I was elected and now I see it in my ward and in the stories I hear as Glasgow Labour’s youth spokesperson.

Recently Glasgow lost one of, in my opinion, its greatest youth workers. I got to know Donald MacLeod through my time as a youth councillor on Glasgow’s Youth Council.

I got to see first-hand the impact a dedicated, committed and genuinely interested youth worker can have on a group of young people, whether that was something as simple as welcoming new youth councillors or giving support and advice to any young person who may have needed, no matter how big or small the issue, related to the Youth Council or maybe something more personal.

Donald has inspired a generation of Glasgow’s young people to get involved in their communities and shown them that their voice matters.

Youth workers become much more than simply that title to young people, to many they become almost like family, someone they can confide in when issues are getting to them and someone who inspires and supports at often their lowest times But Donald wasn’t alone. He would have been the first person to point that out, we have youth workers across Glasgow and Scotland who day in day out put that work in for the current and next generation.

In my own ward I continue to be in awe of the work the likes of Arthur McNeaney are doing in Yoker and across the North West of Glasgow with the young people that so many wouldn’t give the support or simply, a second chance. To help them find their voice, speak to someone who “gets them” and to be proud of the area they live in, their area.

Youth workers prove to us with everything they do that their work really does change lives.

So to Donald, Arthur and all those youth workers across our communities, thank you.