Link Up came to our school to talk to us about the things they have going on. I got a leaflet about an arts and crafts group that was starting soon, so I thought I would go along. I came along to try it out and I really enjoyed it and I got to meet new people, both my own age and older people too.

I started to speak to the Link Up workers about other things that I liked doing. Used to be part of a dance group at the community centre but it had to stop when the community centre closed down and the person moved away. Sophie and I really wanted to create a dance group to keep people off the street and creating havoc. We both wanted more experience of dancing and wanting to have more of a say in how the group ran.”

Alyssia has been involved with Link Up for about 3 years now.

Alyssia, along with Sophie and Billie were instrumental in the development of the dance group, from helping with a dance taster session, to deciding on the day they would meet, helping to design a flyer to promote the group and choreographing and teaching the dance routines.

The dance group have taken part in Showcase The Street’s “crew battle” at a local night club against other dance groups two years running. The first year they were awarded an outstanding achievement award as they were the only dance group to choreograph their own dances.

“I have gained so much more confidence. I really feel like I will be able to help others in the community.

I have gained Saltire Awards too, it’s nice to be rewarded for what we do, and it was such a surprise to get the trophy from Showcase The Street for our work in the Crew Battle. We were also finalists in the Dundee Youth Volunteer Awards in 2016 for the Team Award and we got to go to an award ceremony at the Malmaison! Sophie and I have also both received our 200 hour Saltire Award for our volunteering at Link Up.

I am also a lot more energetic and I have even lost weight!

I hope to get more people involved with Link Up and with volunteering. I really want to inspire the younger generation.

Link Up has given me so much more confidence and I am getting to try new things that I wouldn’t have been able to try. We went to see Jungle Book dance show at Dundee Rep, and that really gave me some good ideas for dance techniques. We also said how the pole dancing that the snake did looked really smart, so Gill arranged for us to have a pole dancing session at Pole Position Scotland. It was so much fun, although I wasn’t very good at it! Emma also organised for us to work with a contemporary dance instructor from the Space! We are also hoping to take part in the crew battle again this year and have already performed at the North East Volunteer Celebration event.”

Alyssia has also been very active outside of Link Up, having completed her Mental Health First Aid Training and delivering workshops. She was chosen by Dundee City Council to be its young ambassador for inclusion and has worked with other young people from across the country to develop and improve support for young people with additional support needs.

Most recently Alyssia won the McManus Citizenship Award 2017 . This award encourages and recognises young people’s hard work and application in their school and the wider community. We are all extremely proud of Alyssia at Link Up.