AS THE dedicated driving force and kind heart behind Young People’s Futures, Ann Lawrance received more nominations than anyone else when we asked you to celebrate the city’s key worker heroes.

With typical modesty, the Possilpark project worker refuses to accept she is anything other than ‘part of the team’.

Her friends, neighbours, colleagues and the thousands of people she has helped over the years, disagree.

“Ann is well known and respected for her overwhelming belief in the people of this community,” says local resident Janette McCormick.

“She has worked tirelessly for young people, families and older people in Possilpark – she is an amazing asset to our area.”

Kerry McDonald, whose daughter attended several YPF clubs, adds: “Ann is the bread and butter of our community.

“Nothing is too difficult for her, she has always been there for my family, for which I am eternally grateful. During lockdown, she has kept us all going – she is the best.”

Deborah Mahon says Ann has always gone the extra mile for the young people of Possilpark.

“Now it is the whole community who needs help and Ann has stepped up,” she says.

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“She has obtained funding, put logistics in place, worked with partners, organised her team – she has an unparalleled knowledge of our community and she has made sure no one is missed out.”

Deborah adds: “She’ll tell you she isn’t doing anything special. We beg to differ.”

In 2002, living in Possilpark with her young son Jonathan, Ann and a group of fellow residents were becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of facilities for young people in the area.

Read more: North Glasgow project helping people living "tough lives in a difficult world"

“At the time, services for the under-12s had been reduced as they were not considered a priority,” she recalls. “We believed the opposite - that intervention was essential, that even young children needed that support.

“I was asked to take part in a consultation, involving 200 young people over two days, and what became obvious really quickly was that young people were screaming out for things to do. They wanted support, a safe place to be.

“So Young Possil Futures was born.”

Over the next few years, Ann volunteered with the group and became part of the management committee.

“I got my teeth into it, as a local mum, as a member of the community,” she says.

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“In 2006, the project manager’s job came up, and I got it.”

She grimaces: “I was told – you’ve got £3000 in the bank, three services running a week and six months to turn it around or it will close.”

“It was quite a challenge.”

Ann adds: “But I threw my ideas and passion and commitment to my community into it and did everything in my power to make sure it did not close down.”

Fourteen years plus a name change l– to Young People’s Futures, in recognition of its wider reach - later, and the project – which has just three full-time staff and 11 sessional workers - is delivering more than 13 different activities, five days a week, to children, teenagers and adults of all ages, races, cultures and backgrounds.

Those activities were brought to an abrupt halt by the coronavirus outbreak, but Ann and the team were determined to find other ways to support their community, co-ordinating resources and delivering food parcels to people in need.

Read more: "We have to get the food out there" - Parkhead project supporting people in lockdown

“I’m just amazed and so grateful to the whole team, and to the volunteers who have come forward – the whole community has been fantastic,” says Ann.

“Why do I do this? Because people believed in me when I first took on this role and I believe in the strength and goodness of people in this community.

“It’s about teasing that out and supporting each other, regardless of status or qualifications or nationality or age.”

She adds: “Caring about each other is the most important thing.”