Youth Achievement Award Bursary

by UK Youth

Young people from the Northbourne Street Youth Initiative show what they can do – and gain recognition through Youth Achievement Awards.

Gillian Finn tells the story:

Northbourne Street Youth Initiative (NSYI) is based in Elswick, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. NSYI’s mission statement is to ‘support young people’s development through activity and achievement.’ We work with children and young people aged 8 – 25 years old.

Youth work programme

Our weekly programme is a mixture of accredited and recreational activities. Recreational activities include DJ-ing, CD production, cooking, pool, ICT and arts and crafts. We also run issue-based sessions on topics, including sexual health and drug and alcohol awareness.

We support young people in all aspects of their lives in order to ensure that they reach their full potential. This includes support around job searches, CV writing, college applications, school attendance and offer information and advice in any areas that the young people ask for. Our current priority is to raise funds to continue the work we are doing and expand into supporting young people’s formal educational achievements.

At NSYI young people can take part in a number of Award programmes, including the Adventure Service Challenge Award, D of E and Youth Achievement Awards.

We use Youth Achievement Awards because they fit with the activities that we are already running and what the young people enjoy doing. The Awards are, in effect, a way of accrediting the activities that young people themselves choose to do. They are also a good way for those who are struggling to achieve in formal education to prove to potential employers or formal education providers that they are capable of achieving, if they are given an opportunity.

Adding value

Gaining a Youth Achievement Award isn’t just about collecting a piece of paper – though young people do appreciate the recognition the certificate brings. Confidence grows as they progress through the Award levels, from Junior Achievement Awards, right up to Gold.

We see them making phone calls, delivering presentations and making decisions. They take part in off-site activities, which they have organised themselves, that take them out of their comfort zones – gorge-walking, when they are afraid of water, doing a high ropes course, when they are afraid of heights. In a supportive environment young people face their fears and come out of them with a boost in confidence and an awareness of what they can achieve when they push themselves.

The structure of the Youth Achievement Awards encourages young people to take on increasing levels of responsibility within the activities we offer. We expect to see young people continue to progress through the levels of the Awards to reach their full potential and – let’s not forget – have plenty of fun along the way!

Gillian Finn is Youth Initiative Manager with Northbourne Street Youth Initiative.

Last year nineteen young people benefitted from the bursary created here on global giving and by the generosity of people's support for this Microproject.  This year we have not yet received any applications but are actively seeking them from our members in the hope that we can see similar numbers of young people benefit in 2013.  

At present we are promoting the bursary via our social media following and our newsletters. The bursary will be mentioned in our next newsletter going to over 20,000 contacts and this will feature on twitter reaching over 9,000 followers.  There will be another big push to promote the bursary on 20 April. We are confident that this promotional work will ensure that some young people who urgently need this support to gain accredited learning.


Young people getting awards
Young people getting awards

The Youth Achievement Awards (YAA) encourage young people to take responsibility in selecting, planning and leading group activities. 

They were established in 1997 and are an activity based approach to peer education.  They support the development of a wide range of life skills by enabling young people to take a progressive level of responsibility in order to move up the awards scales.

The YAA has become established in a range of youth organisations, schools and educational projects and we have now introduced Youth Challenges and Junior Achievement Awards for different age groups.  All of these awards are accredited by ASDAN

UK Youth's Youth Achievement Award Bursary last year supported nearly 20 young people to obtain a Youth Achievement Award ranging from the Bronze right up to the Platinum levels. 

The Youth Challenges are internally certificated and are aimed at young people aged 11 to 14, although they may be appropriate for people older, or even slightly younger. The Bronze to Gold Youth Achievement Awards are aimed at young people who are 14 plus, with the Platinum young leaders award being appropriate for young people of 16 plus.


  • Recognise and accredit young people's achievements
  • Encourage progressive responsibility and ownership of learning
  • Provide a mechanism by which to measure the quality of work with young people
  • Reinforce good practice
  • Encourage participation and social inclusion
  • Use peer education


  • Enhance self awareness and self-esteem
  • Develop communication skills and resolve differences by negotiation
  • Get on with and work well with others
  • Explore and manage feelings
  • Understand and identify with others
  • Develop values
  • Plan ahead

By empowering young people to choose the activities that they will complete in order to achieve their Awards they develop a sense of ownership of their activities and the learning involved. This in itself is highly motivating, but is further enhanced by the sense of achievement gained when young people are able to receive an accredited certificate that recognises their individual contribution to the activities in which they are involved. The Youth Challenge and Youth Achievement Awards can help youth services achieve their ‘Resourcing Excellent Youth Services’ (REYS) accreditation targets in relation to recorded and accredited outcomes for young people.

In using the peer group to assess and support the young people through the Awards, young people develop a range of social skills that includes negotiation, problem solving, communication, working with others etc. Some of these skills can be also accredited through Wider Key Skills programmes (known as the Core Skills in Scotland). In addition, the reviewing and recording procedures have been designed to promote the development of study skills through planning, reviewing, recording and creating a personal portfolio. In addition to the Award booklets, each young person must submit a portfolio of evidence.

Young people are already benefitting from this year' bursary.


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Organization Information

UK Youth

Location: Hampshire - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Dominic Cotton
London, London United Kingdom

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