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Looking Forward Not Back was funded over two years 2014-2016 through the Scottish Government’s ‘Tackling Sectarianism’ programme to examine the nature of the contribution youth work can make to tackling sectarianism. Over the last two years YouthLink Scotland has worked with 98 young people from 10 youth groups across Scotland and engaged approximately 1840 community members in dialogue about sectarianism.  The following pages will provide an overview of year 1 and 2 and provide links to the resources created.

Looking Forward Not Back – Year 2


In 2015/16, using a youth work approach, 27 young people from five communities across Scotland were supported by youth workers and YouthLink Scotland to conduct research in their communities on sectarianism. To support this process, each of the organisations was provide

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The projects included:d with a small grant and a structured support programme on youth-led research. Young researchers were supported to work towards the Participative Democracy Certificate as a means of providing structure to their learning and recognition for their contribution. The PDC (SCQF level 5) includes 20 notional learning hours, which can take between 12 and 16 weeks to complete and is externally verified by YouthLink Scotland.  The award recognised young people’s research skills, group work skills, leadership skills, and decision-making approaches. 

  • Youth Learning Services in South Lanarkshire
  • Tollcross YMCA
  • Govan Youth Information Project
  • Falkirk Council Community Learning and Development
  • Stewartry Council of Voluntary Service

To hear directly from the youth groups, watch this short video:


The final report for Looking Forward Not Back is now available. This report, which is endorsed by University of Dundee, examines the question 'What Contribution can Youth Work make to Tackling Sectarianism?'.


The toolkit from year one ‘Supporting Young People to Take Action on Sectarianism’ has been revised based on the learning from the two years.

It is presented as a guide for other organisations and practitioners who would like to work with young people to support youth action on sectarianism. 

National Symposium

On 16th June over 70 youth work practitioners and policy makers attended the symposium at Scottish Parliament co-hosted by YouthLink Scotland, Christina McKelvie MSP and Alison Harris MSP.  Contributions were led by YouthLink Scotland and the young people and practitioners involved in the “Looking Forward Not Back”. The symposium provided an opportunity to consider the contribution that youth work and young people can make to tacking sectarianism and to discuss the findings of the research carried out by young people on sectarianism in their communities.

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