Awards Plus

Supporting Young People to Achieve

New Year, New Name, New Strategy

Friends of the Award is having a bit of a refresh. In discussion with staff, Trustees, partners, volunteers and young people we work with, a new name and a rebrand is being finalised. We were delighted to be selected for the prestigious ‘Brand for Growth’ programme and have been working closely with Bold Studio since Autumn 2022. All will be revealed in April!

Alongside this, we’re restating what we do, who with, and our priorities for the next 3 years. If you’re interested to see a draft Strategy 2023-25, please contact Watch this space…

Annual Report 2022

As with many third sector, youth and outdoor organisations, 2022 was an ‘interesting’ year of post-pandemic re-settling and re-setting.

As Patrick Neville says in his Chair’s Report, “Although this year has been a transitional year for us, we are now very much back up and running. We are delivering many wonderful outcomes for the young people we support and brimming with ideas for the future. We can look forward to 2023 with a great sense of optimism, knowing that what we do matters more than ever.”

You’ll see that the 2022 Annual Report is illustrated by Tom Morgan-Jones – perhaps familiar via Mission:Explore activity books – who captured young people, quotes and experiences in ink at a Friends of the Award end-of-season presentation.

Staffing, Job Opportunities

We’re a small charity, so filling key roles with the right staff is vital to delivering a quality service, working with partners/funders, and as a foundation for ambitious plans.

We’re recruiting for 2 posts that have been re-structured to focus on expeditions, youth awards and meeting the support needs of young people (full time, 12 months).

Operations & Expeditions Manager – to programme and oversee all our outdoor activity.

Expeditions & Youth Awards Support Worker (scroll down) – to support young people, schools and youth groups in Edinburgh.

If you know of someone with suitable experience, please pass on details.

Sarah Kerr, our Expeditions Co-ordinator, is leaving for New Zealand in March after 4 years at the heart of Friends of the Award. The numerous young people, partners, volunteers and colleagues she’s worked with in organizing, leading, supporting expeditions and youthwork activity wish her well in her new adventures. We’re grateful for Sarah’s commitment and huge efforts in enabling such a range of powerful experiences for so many young people.

Thanks for your understanding. As key staff move on to pastures new, continuity can be a challenge. As these expeditions and youth support roles haven’t yet been filled we haven’t confirmed an Expeditions Programme for 2023, or the level of support we can offer to schools and youth groups at present. We’re grateful for your understanding and patience. We will update key contacts, volunteers and young people (including Open Group participants) as soon as recruitment is confirmed and support is available.

Day of Access – a Bings excursion

The shale bings of West Lothian create an unusual landscape, a wounded place, yet also a healing one. As part of a collaboration between Friends of the Award’s mental health support work and ‘Day of Access’, two young people spent an afternoon exploring the site.

It’s like a sci-fi film set, as if we’ve been dropped on Mars or Ayers Rock. I didn’t expect the red-brown colours to be so dramatic. It feels foreign and abstract!

It’s a secluded new environment. I didn’t think there’d be so much woodland, the harshness gives way to a soft green lushness. It’s so peaceful, weirdly silent, so cool. It has a sense of loneliness and desolation too, of being asleep, at rest. It makes you feel safe being away from the traffic and noise.”

Read a full account of the experience.

Volunteer help

The Annual Report 2022 recognises the valuable roles of volunteers in leading and supporting expeditions. Once key staff are in place we’d like to explore and expand volunteering roles in relation to expeditions, schools and Open Group support.

We’d also welcome help in the following areas:

  • Newsletter – set up a 2-3 monthly e-news for all our key contacts (template, GDPR needs).
  • Database – expertise in setting up a new database that will meet our needs for the next 2-3 years.

If you have expertise in these areas, please contact

And a couple of items of (possible) interest…

Juliet Robertson’s Creative Star Learning website ‘I’m a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here!’  is an absolute treasure trove of information and insights, ideas and inspiration. Take a look at Juliet’s Working outside in all weathers blog, for example.

The Awards Network is a brilliantly collaborative forum of providers of non-formal learning opportunities for young people throughout Scotland. Its recent Introduction to Youth Awards sessions include extensive links giving current information about the breadth of awards available, resources, policy contexts and much more. Well worth a look…  

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