Seventy per cent cent of the 10,711 young people who were supported through Team last year moved in to jobs, education or training.

Barry Davidson, a Team Leader on the programme at Perth YMCA (which delivers Team in partnership with Perth College and Perth and Kinross Council), believes that the programme’s success is down to its structure of group residentials, teambuilding, placements and CV workshops, and credits the community project element as engaging even the most challenging groups of young people.

He says: 

Last year, I led a Team of 12 unemployed young people who were all lacking in motivation and self esteem. They spent the first few weeks getting to know each other and didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but they put their differences aside during the community project and learned a lot about themselves and others and gained valuable perspective.

Team 7 were a mixed group of 16 to 24-year-olds. Some had a history of offending, some struggled with addictions and others were homeless or suffering with mental health issues. They had been searching for a community project to take on when they heard about a local children’s hospice called Rachel’s House, and were so moved when they visited, they forgot their differences and became absorbed in creating a series of colourful murals to brighten the lives of the hospice’s life-limited children.

Lorna Wyllie, Perth YMCA Team 7 says: “We’d originally contacted Rachel’s House to see if they needed any renovation work doing and they invited us in to have a look around. We met some of the children there, but it wasn’t until we saw loads of pictures on a wall that it hit us that these children were actually dying.

“The pictures were photos of children that had been at the hospice and when we asked why some of them had butterfly stickers on, they said those were the children who had died. I don’t think any of us expected that answer. We always think about how hard our lives are, but those children were dying. It was so sad. Every single one of us wanted to do something for them.”

That experience at Rachel’s House was all the motivation Perth YMCA Team 7 needed. It gave them perspective and empathy and a heartfelt determination to put smiles on the faces of the terminally ill children they had met.  

Planning a project of any size can be daunting, but Team community projects have to be completed within a limited time frame and this sees participants  - many of whom had never interacted with businesses or management staff before - learn key skills on-the-job including budgeting, communication and negotiation.

Team 7 kicked things off by liaising with Rachel House staff on mural designs and then contacted local businesses for donations of paints and materials. Money to buy additional equipment they hadn’t managed to source for free was raised through a fundraising cake sale and sponsored triathlon, both of which were coordinated from scratch by the group.

Working well under pressure, the young people recognised the importance of collaborating as a team in order to reach their end goal, and allotted different parts of the project to each other based on their strengths and weaknesses before coming together to paint specific sections of the murals.

Kevin Toolan, Perth YMCA Team 7 says: “We painted Finding Nemo and the Little Mermaid in the main bathroom, Sponge Bob Squarepants in a loo, and a lots of superheroes on an outdoor wall. It looked really good.”

Perth YMCA Team 7 completed the project at Rachel House in just two weeks. It gave them a sense of achievement and left them with a host of ‘work-ready’ skills. It also made them realise that life is precious and that if they have the opportunity to do something positive in life, they should take it.  

Their work at Rachel House saw them win the AG Barr Community Impact award at The Prince’s Trust Scotland Celebrate Success Awards 2014 – a fitting tribute to their impassioned efforts.

Barry says: 

Seeing the difference in the young people when they finish Team compared to where they were when they first come through the doors is amazing, and on Team 7 it was particularly apparent. They came a long way in a short space of time and it’s was incredibly rewarding to see them develop.

“But there are so many young people out there who need a chance to change, it gives me such a positive buzz to know that through The Prince’s Trust Team programme, I can help them get that chance.”