Simone's Story

Thanks to community-based youth work, Simone’s past will not define her future – read her story.

A young person sits on a moss-covered log, looking off into a green forest.

Youth Scotland gratefully received this fantastic example of community-based youth work from member group YMCA Tayside. Simone’s* story is a great example of how universal youth work that meets young people where they are can help them take control of their own path. Our thanks to Simone and YMCA Tayside for allowing us to share this story.

We are proud of Simone and all she has achieved. A clear example of your past not defining your future. She truly deserves the success she is experiencing.


Simone was referred to the YMCA by Youth Services as a young person who has had significant Adverse Childhood Experiences and also suffered from anxiety.

Following usual procedure, YMCA allocated a key worker, Matthew Dellaquaglia, who made contact with Simone’s mother in order to offer support opportunities.

It was clear Simone was anxious as she struggled to speak to Matthew without her mother present. After several attempts of engagement, Simone made her first step to a brighter future by saying yes to youth work and agreeing to meet with Matthew outside the family home, within her local community.

Although the Coronavirus restrictions made delivering youth work more challenging, we are thankful that Scottish Government recognised the importance of this work and allowed face to face youth work to continue for the hardest to reach and most at-risk young people. It was clear to us, that Simone met these criteria and so Matthew met with Simone, outside the family home and went for a walk round the community with the simple aim of building trust and rapport.

Simone registered with the YMCA and started meeting with her youth worker weekly in a 1-2-1 setting. Simone took to the youth work approach well and consistently engaged in her weekly meetings which consisted mainly of walks round North Inch Park, as at that time indoor youth work was not permitted.

Simone struck Matthew as a bright and able young person who understandably lacked self-belief. Simone and Matthew developed an action plan focusing on her self-belief, self-talk and overall employability skills.

Thanks to Simone’s commitment to her action plan and Scottish Government allowing indoor youth work to resume with precautions in place, Simone started to show significant positive developments. She began to believe herself once again.

Simone was progressing really well, she had started an SCQF Level 4 qualification with the YMCA in Employability Skills as well as agreeing to restart her time volunteering with the Foodbank, which she had given up before starting with the YMCA.

Around this time Matthew had introduced Simone to various employment opportunities as he believed Simone’s self-image, self-worth and self-belief had changed so significantly for the better that she would be ready to gain and sustain employment. It was to Matthew’s delight that Simone had grabbed this opportunity wholeheartedly and applied for the Health and Social Care Modern Apprenticeship with Perth & Kinross Council.

Reflecting on this stage of Simone’s progress, she had recognised in herself the positive steps she had made and appeared truly proud of herself.

During one meeting with Simone, she had confirmed that her application to PKC was accepted and that she was being progressed through to the interview stage. Understandably Simone was very happy but also very nervous. YMCA had reacted quickly to this exciting news and agreed with Simone that they would fast track her Employability Skills course to focus on interview techniques as she had found herself needing this input sooner than expected.

Simone then spent a day with the YMCA preparing for her interview with Perth & Kinross Council.

During one of the YMCA team meetings, Matthew received a call from Simone where she excitedly announced her interview was successful, and she got the job.

The knock-on effect of Simone’s progress and successful work with the YMCA was shared by her mother who had sent this message:

Hi Matthew, just wanted to say thanks for all your help with Simone, I’m over the moon for her, she needed this. Thanks again.

As Simone waits for her start date to become PKC’s latest Health and Social Care Apprentice, she remains involved with the YMCA and continues to go from strength to strength. To date Simone has achieved her SCQF Level 4 qualification in Employability Skills, successfully gained a HI5 Award and is working towards a Dynamic Youth Award, she also enrolled with Duke of Edinburgh and on top of all that, still finds time to volunteer at our local Foodbank helping others in need.

We are proud of Simone and all she has achieved. A clear example of your past not defining your future. She truly deserves the success she is experiencing.

To find out more about YMCA Tayside’s work and services, visit:

To find out more about Youth Scotland’s suite of youth awards, visit our awards pages here

*Simone is a pseudonym