Awards Plus

Supporting Young People to Achieve

Mental health-informed youth work and support.

Awards Plus is for young people who may need extra help to achieve through a range of youth awards. We want all young people to feel supported to fulfil their potential, regardless of barriers they may face. Working with individuals, youth groups and schools, we a focus on youth awards, nature connectedness, and expeditions support.

A key strand of work is to provide tailored 1:1 mentoring support through referrals from Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and other mental health support services, including community organisations and schools.  


Who is Awards Plus, and its 1:1 Mentoring, for?

We work with young people aged 14-25, from Edinburgh & The Lothians, who may be missing out on opportunities due to 

– practical, logistical, financial reasons

– additional support needs 

– reasons associated with mental health difficulties. 

1:1 mentoring support is available for young people experiencing mental health difficulties who are open to outdoor activity opportunities and youth awards involvement.

Referrals can be from mental health services such as CAMHS, and via schools (e.g. nurture groups, additional support units, complex support needs units), youth clubs or community groups.


Why Awards Plus 1:1 Mentoring is needed 

Issues relating to a young person’s mental health are many and varied. Many might be seen as a common, if challenging, part of youth and a feature of modern life. But the ever-present nature and scale of issues, stresses and pressures can cause vulnerability, anxiety, struggle, isolation and crisis.

For some, additional support is beneficial. Mental health services are stretched beyond capacity and failing to meet a rising demand for support. [Public Health Scotland]

Youth awards offer a framework that can recognise achievement at every step of involvement, from making an appointment and getting on a bus to completing an adventurous expedition, from running a conservation/climate campaign to sharing the experience of a walk with someone.

Benefits of experiences in nature are well documented. “Interacting with nature can be not just enjoyable, but also beneficial to our mental health and wellbeing, aspects of our health that are particularly important to look after” (‘Thriving with Nature – a guide for everyone’ produced by WWF-UK and the Mental Health Foundationextensive references). Opportunities and personalised pathways are offered by a diverse and complementary range of nature-based youth awards in Scotland.

But youth awards can feel unattainable for many young people who are struggling with motivation, focus, anxiety or self-esteem.

There’s a need to hold open doors to opportunities which might otherwise seem closed. Every young person’s needs, strengths, and timeline is unique. A tailored 1:1 approach can provide the time and support to identify suitable opportunities, reach appropriate milestones and celebrate every unique success.

Awards Plus meets a demand where mental health services and youth work approaches intersect. There are multiple benefits in connecting young people struggling with their mental health with youth award activities, with nature and with their wider community. 

1:1 mentoring support might be part of a multi-agency approach. It can be focused towards a specific goal such as preparing for a residential experience or completing an expedition.

What does Awards Plus offer?

It’s about personalised, practical support. Our approach meets young people where they are at. It seeks to understand what support is needed before exploring opportunities to broaden horizons and build a sense of self-worth in tailored, individual ways.

Following a referral process [link], a professional mentoring role from Awards Plus staff focuses on active engagement, self-paced challenges and goal-setting. This can include 

  • Tailored 1:1 support to identify suitable youth awards relevant to individual needs and interests. These can include Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at Bronze, Silver, Gold levels, John Muir Award, Junior Award Scheme for Schools and others 
  • Progression, both as a pathway through different nature-based awards, and through levels within an award e.g. Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, John Muir Award
  • A focus on (re-)engagement with natural spaces, communities, active choices, volunteering
  • Routine – regular meetings, regular group opportunities
  • Support to participate in appropriate aspects of Awards Plus Open Programme, including Drop-in Sessions, skills-based awards
  • Support to participate in an access-focused Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Open Expeditions Programme, exploring any necessary adjustments or concerns
  • Financial support towards registrations, activities and awards achievement
  • Understanding and exploring impacts of mental health difficulties as barriers to involvement and achievement
  • Using stories and experiences as reference points, for centring, to offer focus
  • Recognising achievement at every level, from showing up, to meeting requirements of a Section/milestone, to successful award completion
  • Links and leads to other organisations for volunteering, skills, achievement, and for additional mental health support

There is no fixed period of involvement. Referrals can be considered at any time. The duration of 1:1 support is dependent on individual needs.

Awards Plus 1:1 Mentoring can be part of an ‘Early Intervention’ approach, part of a Recovery Plan up to a point at which specialist provision is appropriate, or assistance beyond CAMHS involvement. It’s not intended to be an element of crisis management, but of broadening horizons and supported challenge.

Contact: Heather Hughes, Development Officer: | 0131 467 4753h

Thanks to our Funders

Young Start Community Fund logo
YouthLink Scotland logo
Scottish Government Logl