MBE award for dedicated founder of youth cafe

Hazel with youngsters who attend the cafe.
Hazel with youngsters who attend the cafe.

A retired teacher who set up a cafe to give young people somewhere to go has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Hazel Ralston from Bearsden, who is an elder at Glasgow Cathedral, was honoured for her services to education and youth development in the city.

The 63-year-old, who established the youth cafe in 2009 while she was acting headteacher of Anderston Primary School in Glasgow, says she was “surprised and delighted” to get an MBE.

But she insisted that the success of Anderston Youth Cafe, which caters for people aged 11-15, would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of other people.

Mrs Ralston, who worked at Anderston Primary School for 31 years until she retired two years ago, said: “I was completely taken by surprise when I opened the letter informing me of the award.

“I’m delighted to receive such an honour but I am very conscious that the club could not have been so successful without the help of others.”

Mrs Ralston explained that neighbours near the school had complained about under-age drinking and other anti-social behaviour in the evenings and weekends.

She says sadly some of these people engaging in anti-social behaviour were former pupils of the school and it became clear to her that there was nothing for young people to do in the area.

Mrs Ralston discovered that there was a lack of free activities for youngsters unless they were interested in sports.

Mrs Ralston raised the issue with a former chief executive of Glasgow City Council who said ‘there was no silver bullet’ to solve the problem.

She says this made her even more determined to do something and she said to a colleague; “well there’s going to be a silver bullet in Abderston before I retire!”

The cafe, which was originally house in a former office building, was kitted out with tables and chairs, computer equipment and games bought with grant money, and it was open on Thursday evenings between 5pm to 9pm.

Sadly the building was demolished in 2015 and at the moment youngsters meet in a room in Sanctuary Housing Association Office.

Mrs Ralston, who is married to Andrew and has a daughter called Miranda, added: “We’re grateful to be able to meet there, but we’re not able to carry out as many of the activities as we would like.

“We are now working towards finding new premises, to allow the young people to develop further and make more space for more to attend.”

Mrs Ralston is also a former Sunday school teacher and a past trustee of the Asylum Seeker Outreach project in St Rollox Church.