Last week we hosted our AGM, where we celebrated all the fantastic work folk have been up to this year and looked forward to what’s to come.
Canongate Youth is a really busy place- whether we’re supporting young people who aren’t in school or training, providing play spaces for wee ones, or running our successful music café and tuition services, we’re always on the go. That’s why downing tools and taking the time to reflect on our achievements is so important. Many of the children and young people we work with have experienced disadvantage in some way, whether it’s poverty, violence, abuse, experience of care or poor mental health, and they are fighting to overcome barriers everyday. We take being a safe space to ‘be, belong and become’ seriously, and we wanted to celebrate their resilience and energy at this event.
We’re lucky enough to be gifted with the fantastic Ada Cattanach awards, a legacy left to us by one of our founders, Ada Cattanach herself, and this year, her son Alistair presented the award to two fantastic young women from our over 12s and under 12s provision-Lacey and Chloe.
Lacey told us “I have been coming to Canongate Youth since I was really little, I love coming to Play Rangers and Space@6 because I get to play with my friends and see people who don’t go to the same school as I do. I get to try new things like going on camp and to different places in Edinburgh. I like to help at Play Rangers and I want to work at Canongate Youth when I’m older”. Youth Work Organiser and Play Ranger Hannah, who nominated Lacey, said that “ I nominated Lacey for the Ada Award because although she is naturally a quiet person, at Play Rangers she tries really hard to get involved in everything and is always happy to help the other children and staff”
For our over-12s award, Chloe, who was nominated for being determined, said, “I like CY because it’s a place that has given me support from a very young age. I came to clubs when I could and always felt welcome and safe. It was a place to meet others, have fun and forget about my worries and responsibilities for a while. As I got older it became a constant in my life, somewhere where I knew I would be listened to and supported through all that life threw at me, especially in really tough times- and it still is. There is always a welcome and someone to listen and help me work things out”
Suzanne, who nominated Chloe said said “I nominated Chloe because in my 20 years here at CY she is one of the young people that sticks out as having faced unimaginable adversity in her life but who has not let that hold her back. There have been many ups and downs, times when others would have just given up and just let things “happen” but this young woman refused to give up and always had that spark of determination.
She has been involved with CY on and off for many years – at times, very intense involvement and we have seen her face, and cope with, some of the toughest times of her young life. But we have also seen her in times of triumph when she has overcome hurdles that others would have shied away from. We continue to provide a friendly face to welcome her or an ear to listen but this role has lessened over the past 18 months or so. We are proud to call her a friend of ours and I think she too is proud of her connection here!”
Eight other young people received certificates too, with Jennifer noted for being resilient, Michael for being inspiring, Chloe for her resilience and strength , Conner for his energy and commitment, Ryan for his dedication, Akram for being himself and Rawia for being thoughtful.
We had canapes provided by our own brilliant old school café, there was local council representation from Cllr Burgess and Cllr Miller, with Cllr Rose speaking about his support of the centre. We were also lucky enough to hear from David, one of our young people using our music provision who sung an original song which was absolutely stunning, wonderful and so brave.
All the children and young people that we work with make such tremendous journeys and we’re so proud to witness this, supporting them to achieve success in their own lives. We wanted to use the AGM as a chance to celebrate, to thank our staff, volunteers, board, and our supporters and to build on this energy to get cracking on the next year of our own 40 year journey.Thanks to everyone who attended, to our commitment, dedicated resilient staff and board, to the children and young people who use our services, and here’s to an exciting 2018!