Motherwell man visits Buckingham Palace to receive MBE

Jim Sweeney from Motherwell proudly displays his medal outside Buckingham Palace accompanied by wife Liz and sons Stephen (left) and Martin.
Jim Sweeney from Motherwell proudly displays his medal outside Buckingham Palace accompanied by wife Liz and sons Stephen (left) and Martin.

Motherwell man Jim Sweeney travelled to Buckingham Palace to receive an MBE at a ceremony performed by Prince William.

Jim, who is head of Scotland’s national youth work agency Youthlink, was recognised in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List for his services to Scotland’s youth work sector.

After beginning his career as a trainee youth and community worker in 1972, Jim graduated from Jordanhill in 1976 and worked in the Wishaw, Coatbridge, Blantyre and Hamilton areas.

He became a principal officer in Strathclyde Region in Ayr Division in 1992 moving to Lanark a year later before transferring to North Lanarkshire in 1996 where he remained until joining YouthLink Scotland in February 2006 as chief executive.

Jim is also vice-chairman of both Young Scot and Scotland’s Learning Partnership as well as being a member of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scottish Advisory Committee, the CLD Standards Council Executive Committee, the BIG Lottery Expert Advisory Panels for Young Start and Realising Ambition programme, the Scottish Leaders Forum, the National Economic Forum, the Third Sector Employability Forum and is joint-chairman of the National Youth Work Strategy Stakeholder Reference Group.

Jim has become known for his charismatic style of leadership which has transformed the sector in Scotland by influencing people, policies and practice.

Since his days as a trainee youth and community worker in the 70s, through to his time in charge of youth work services for North Lanarkshire Council, and in his current role at YouthLink Scotland, Jim has fought against a ‘one size fits all’ education system, which he says does not work for all young people, and continues to campaign for youth work to be an integral part of the education system.

Jim said: “This was a really great occasion and I was very proud for the youth work sector and for the recognition Scottish and Lanarkshire youth work was receiving via my award.

“I have been blessed with super colleagues and a massively supportive family throughout my career. It was a great honour and a thrill to be with my wife and two boys at the palace, and to celebrate with family afterwards.

“An unforgettable experience, my thanks to all friends, family and colleagues for their many kind wishes.”