A YOUTH worker at North Berwick Youth Project has been shortlisted as a finalist for a prestigious award.

Martin Lahiffe, 53, who has been working as a mental health youth worker at the project since January 2017, is in running for a National Youth Work Award in the mental health and wellbeing category.

Martin took on the role in the town after mental health was identified as a key barrier to achievement and attainment in North Berwick and surrounding villages.

On his nomination, Martin, who lives in Dunbar, said: “I feel really privileged, thrilled and delighted to have been shortlisted for this prestigious National Youth Work Award.

“I’m really chuffed and also a little bit surprised because North Berwick is only a small project.

“To be recognised by my peers for the work that I have been doing with young people and their mental health in the area is an honour.

“It also helps highlight the real need for this type of early intervention work and the positive impact it has on so many young people in the area.”

Martin added: “The nomination means a lot to me. Mental health is a growing concern and the award is about the work that is being done with young people.”

Martin was nominated by his boss Lesley Kay, project director at North Berwick Youth Project.

Lesley said: “He seems to instinctively know how to help young people and support them through the difficult times.

“He really knows how to listen and is very calm and thoughtful, creating an environment where young people feel safe to share their worries and anxieties.”

Martin, who was trained by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), identifies appropriate materials for young people to work through, delivers guided self-help and identifies appropriate materials for young people to work through.

He also delivers courses to whole school classes, with his area covering North Berwick High School and Aberlady, Gullane, Dirleton, Athelstaneford and Law Primary schools.

Since Martin took up his post, CAMHS referrals dropped by 30 per cent and unauthorised school absences fell by nearly 70 per cent.

He said: “If I win I will be absolutely delighted but if I come third I’m still going to be delighted, that’s still amazing recognition.”

The results of the awards will be announced at a dinner in Glasgow on Thursday, March 12.