SIMY is a Youth work project working in the Townhead area of Glasgow. It is a community made up of young people from Townhead, Royston, Drygate, Sighthill, Cowcaddens and further afield. Townhead's location close to the city centre make it a natural gathering place for young people, most of whom attend Glasgow St Roch secondary school or Cleveden Secondary School.
It was set up in 2004 as a partnership between the International Christian College, The Church of Scotland through Martyrs Church in Townhead and Operation Mobilisation's LifeHope. It is concerned with helping young people reach their potential through developing a community of practise. It grew out of two different youth and children's project that worked out of the local church in Townhead and St Rollox church in Sighthill, Glasgow.
The project in Townhead was started in 1999 by Norman McNeish, Tony Sargent and Neil Pratt, the then head of the youth work department of the International Christian College, when ICC moved to a new building in Townhead. The staff noticed there was very little for young people to do and found a lot of young people congregated at the area behind their building. Neil, with a small team of volunteers, responded to this need by developed a placement opportunity for two students from the ICC BA in youth work with applied Theology (accredited by Aberdeen University) course to develop their practise by working with him and other youth work professionals. The club was set up in partnership with the local young people, developing with their ideas and in response to their needs.
After the change to focusing on Townhead, SiMY rebuilt, first through a Detached Youth work project, but quickly added back in youth clubs when the police and residence noticed an increase in antisocial behaviour due to the lack of things for young people to do and places for them to meet. The project has grown by working with the International Christian College youth work degree course, the local community police, the Prince's Youth Trust (PYT), Glasgow Community Safety Services, St Roch Secondary school and Glasgow Life. In 2009 they had grown to successfully providing work place development posts for four youth work students from ICC and placements for two students from Anniesland College. Placements included experience in schools work, detached youth work, open youth clubs, residential work as well as specific projects that nourished particular interests of the young people. All students placed in this project have gone on to successful youth work careers.
The project has primarily been self-financing by the contributions of its volunteers, small funders such as the "Fairer Scotland Fund" as well as by thel young people and their families.
In 2011 the SiMY volunteer held a review to respond to the 2010 Community Audit of the area conducted by the church of Scotland glasgow presbytery in conjunction with SiMY. The report highlighted much needs of the area. SiMY has formed as a separate charity. With the support of a consultant from the "Community enterprise trust", they are building the capacity of the new organisation.
SiMY continues to use the former Martyrs building in Townhead. With no other viable accommodation in Townhead area, the volunteers, young people and parents formed a campaign to save the project and keep the old Martyrs building open until the new Townhead Village Hall is opened Spring 2013.
At present the volunteer group do not have backing to move to the new village hall and are seeking support for the local young people in this regard. The TVHP committee advise there is one evening dedicated to youth work run by Glasgow life, also the Village Hall is for people from Townhead community only and so can not accomidate SiMY's 4 evenings a week of high numbers of young people.
SiMY has began to work in new ways has began in the use of programs like the DofE, community sport, visual arts, dance and music that will allow continuation should the project end up without a building.
- Tuesday night - 4pm Bike Club, 7pm: volunteers group, 8pm - School leavers group and DofE Seniors.
- Wednesday: Badminton (16+ only)
- Thursday night: -SiMY Arts: Dance fitness, Music and visual arts. SiMY Sports:, Football coaching , Racketball, TT, Chill out: Pool, consol gaming,
- Friday night: open club: Sports, chill out and special classes.
Young people gather weekly at "The Hub" which is open Thursday and Friday evenings. The clubs are staffed by volunteers, GCSS staff, Glasgow life staff, A&M Training, and volunteers from townhead, Destiny Church and local businesses. Each organisation brings different actives and opportunities for young people including music class, sports coaching, meeting spaces and life skills. There are addition specific support like the Exam support program, CV & application support, employability services (in conjunction with PYT, Fairbridge and West Glasgow Employability). In St Roch school the team work with the pastoral staff to help young people during lunch breaks and at special events.
SiMY is one of the Glasgow Life DofE centres with a number of young people undertaking the program at one of the three levels.
SiMY is involved in the Townhead Estate management group, the community partnership, the area youth work partnership and the village hall project. Through this young people get involved in the different developmental initiatives in the area.
Every year the volunteers and young people take time away in short activity breaks and activity weeks. The focus of these residential is living together in community. In 2009 /2010 this activity took place at GlenKin near Dunoon. The SiMY team returned, in 2011, to running its residential programs in Aviemore at the Cairngorm Christian Centre in Kincraig. In 2012 partnership with the Iona Community added residential weeks to Camas and activities to achieve the John Muir Award.
Young people lead projects
These projects are done as part of the young people's DofE.
- Maintenance Team. Silver DofE group of young people learning DIY, building up keep and ground maintenance skills to transform a former church building so it can continue to be used for community groups.
- Break Dance. A project lead by two talented young dancer to bring Breaking dance and links to Y'Dance for teenager from his school and area. The group have already worked with AplusM training to get their group to Y'Dance's destinations weekend. They are now looking for opportunities to expand the groups experience and skills with AplusM's help.
- Music Room. Local young musicians sharing their skills and music. Includes weekly peer education slot for young people to learn an instrument. The group are hoping to link in with other musicians of all ages in the area and use local facilities for community music events. This is supported by "The Lee Pub".
- The Events team. Working to run events for the local community. So far the team have run a Tea Dance, Townhead's Got Talent and a Easter Monday funday.
- Townhead football team. Other areas where working with AplusM training's soccer, but Townhead did not have a team. 3 of the DofE group have build a team that is playing in the city wide competitions. They have been so successful that they are now starting a "B" team as they had more people wanting to play than they could accommodate in one team.
About the community
The SiMY community is mainly staffed by local volunteers. Most are young people who have grown up through the project or people who work in the Townhead area. This team of volunteers provide a stable base for statutory sector groups or activity based program providers to work with young people when they have the funding by joining in with the team. The team are made up from a diverse group of people. Although the heart of the project community are Christians, there is no need to be a Christian to be part of the community.
The community is dedicated to the training of youth work professionals and continual personal development of its volunteers. When funding allows, the community includes part-time youth worker students from ICC and Anniesland college and youth work research students.
The team apply a reflective cycle approach to youth work provision and response to the community of young people.
Young people volunteer in the community working on ideas they have for improving their community. In each management committee that has developed, 2 young people are invited on to the committee.
Research and development activity
2007–2008 – Research work includes "Breaking the cycle" action research into Townhead's young people response to alcohol and the driving force behind the continuing use and misuse of alcohol in Townhead. A report that highlights key ways forward for shaping a youth work response that can break the cycle.
"Young people's response to the village hall project",
"2008 Community Audit".
2009 - Young people's needs from the Village Hall Project.
"Developmental comparison study between Townhead Martyrs church and Robroyston church of Scotland youth work provision"
2008 and beyond – SiMY has secured a small grant to investigate how other small churches can use partnerships to meet the youth work needs of a community. The work with Robroyston Parish Church has led to their own "Hub" beginning and one of the student volunteers, Sam Goncalves being employed as their youth worker.
2010 – Developing young people's abilities through youth work in the outdoors. The team worked with the church of Scotland in a pilot study of the part outdoor education can play in developing young people and youth work. Through this study they launch the Glen Kin Experience. A bothy style holiday and training experience for young people. The study was for the Church of Scotland's Priority Area's fund and is now fully launched. It provides holidays for a select number of churches in the most deprived areas of Scotland. The project employed its first full-time worker Alex Bauer, 2011 and is adding more sessional staff in the summer of 2011.
2010 Deep Impact 
2012 Community Audit, done in conjunction with the Glasgow Transformation Team.
Project spin offs
Current and recent funders and supporters
- Youthwork training
- Community Enterprise Trust
- Young Scot sports coaching funding
- Cashback for Communities and Scottish Hockey
- Fairer Scotland Fund via Glasgow Life
- Ernst and Young Corporate Responsibility
- Robina Goodlad Memorial Trust
- Wakeham Trust
- Church of Scotland
- International Christian College
- Destiny Church Glasgow
- Cairngorm Christian Centre
- GHA Community Gold Fund
Current program partners