What we stand for.
What MYDG stands for is exactly what its initials signify – for Youth, for their Development, through being an ongoing, open, outwardly-facing Group, rooted in the community of Muirhouse and its adjacent areas of north Edinburgh. Fundamental to MYDG is the building and maintaining of relationships with young people, as they grow up in Muirhouse.
MYDG engages and involves young people, responding to what is said, needs expressed, or support sought, through the activities of the Group, and through the connections built between volunteers (Muirhouse young people too) with those younger than themselves, and with the backing of MYDG staff. At the heart of what MYDG stands for is an open door, a welcome, and a sense of belonging. The organisation is stable and can be relied upon, even over many years. It gives real participation to young people who come through its door.
The result of the standing of MYDG within its community is that young people within MYDG feel respected and included, and their journey to adulthood is supported, filled with opportunities, worthwhile experiences and good memories. It is not surprising that they are then willing and able to give something of themselves to support others.
Pride, humanity, aspirations and expanding horizons are big words for a small organisation in a less than perfect corner of a large city! Nonetheless they are what is aimed for in the lives of young people who come to be a part of MYDG.
Purpose, values and intention
We believe that young people are at the heart of our community. We are convinced of what they contribute to the community and we are committed to ensure that they are nurtured adequately to make positive choices in the future.
We aim to increase self-esteem and raise aspirations of young people in MYDG through a developed sense of self, others and the communities to which they belong, both locally and globally. We aim to motivate young people to work in partnership with their peers, volunteers, employed staff, management committees and other agencies to respond effectively to their needs.
We will develop creative and innovative programmes of adventure, residential experience and sport to encourage learning and leadership in a supportive environment.
Our values are to express and exemplify the following through our activities and actions – being inclusive and accepting; being youth centred; being grounded in the community; creating positive experiences; being flexible and responsive, willing to listen and learn; being outward looking.
MYDG commits itself to serving the local community of Muirhouse and surrounding area. The organisation will commit at least two-thirds of its working time in face to face youth work, with one third or less in time engaged in support and administration. MYDG works in partnership with young people in learning, in promoting democratic processes in groups and in developing a youth community which is accessible and not tied to buildings.
Young people, volunteers and staff in MYDG have an increasing sense of wanting to “bring the world to Muirhouse and Muirhouse to the world”. This is not so much through a single activity or programme but through a perspective that can influence and inspire many of the activities in which MYDG engages.
The global perspective will grow through conscious efforts to build on what has already happened – a MYDG young person as a volunteer in Africa, a successful Winston Churchill fellowship, a European volunteer hosted by MYDG, a Commonwealth exchange. It will grow through everyone in MYDG thinking and talking more about these global activities, and through sharpening our awareness of opportunities and funding that are out there.
People who have taken part in international exchanges or volunteering experiences abroad will be asked to tell others in MYDG about what it has meant to them – using blogs, facebook, video.
Our roots – where we have come from
MYDG is not a simple youth work programme. It is not a “service provider” in the most usual sense of those words. It is an indigenous organisation, committed to its own longevity; working with and through its local community; with young people finding and making their places within it as they grow up, as they gain independence, and as they become able and capable of being increasingly responsible for steering MYDG and ensuring that it creates opportunities for others who come along after themselves.
MYDG could be described as a process of social change, or “a quiet revolution”*, which has empowered several generations of young people from north Edinburgh. MYDG is never top down; it is always about relationships; it puts young people first; it is there when they need it and there for them to return to. It is their organisation – feelings that transmit far into adulthood, as young people of MYDG’s past continue their commitment and contributions to the organisation as adults.
MYDG began in 1997. The local social context was characterised by extremes – family breakdown, loss of traditional employment, drug and substance misuse becoming more widespread, domestic violence – but interspersed with people who wanted to make things change for the better. Young people in Muirhouse and adjacent areas of north Edinburgh had nowhere to go in evenings, no activities, no focal points, no voice. Organic, unstructured, peer and volunteer led, MYDG began to take shape, and welcome support came from local agencies who provided premises and resources, with a strong community commitment. MYDG was small and low profile, yet determined, and was hugely successful in the ways in which young people benefitted – from being listened to, from forming relevant and constructive relationships, from having new experiences, and from others believing in them.
*Phrase used originally by Carl Rogers, American pioneer of counselling and personal development, in describing the impact of a person centred approach to both individual and community change.