The following are the words of Gavin, a young man who grew up in one of the most socially deprived communities in Govan, surrounded by poverty, unemployment, peer pressure and territorial violence on his doorstep: "I really look up to what Johnny's done, it's fantastic."

Johnny is a youth worker with Glasgow Youthpoint, part of the Aberlour Childcare Trust. Gavin met Johnny while he was out on the streets one Friday night involved in binge drinking and gang fighting. Johnny encouraged Gavin to take a different path in life, helping him to put together his cv, go to college and persevere with his interest in sport. From that point on, his life turned around. Gavin is a world martial arts champion and has competed in far-flung places such as Japan and Italy.

Youthpoint was established in 2003 and Gavin is just one of hundreds of young people to have benefited from the support it offers to those from disadvantaged backgrounds in parts of Glasgow. In 2010, the service set up detached street work and early intervention programmes in communities including Calton and Govan. Youthpoint targeted these areas in an attempt to re-engage the most marginalised young people and divert their attention away from negative influences. With funding from the Big Lottery, the University of the West of Scotland recently completed a four-year evaluation of Youthpoint's programmes. We conducted interviews with key workers and more than 80 young people and the results were startling.

We found the service provided a wide range of activities and opportunities: arts, cooking, boxing, swimming and highly valued residential weekends that brought the young people out of themselves and their territories and widened their horizons. The service also worked with the "forgotten children" of Glasgow's housing schemes: young people who weren't part of the local gangs but, because of local territorial issues, hid in their houses every night. Many only managed to socialise with peers one night a week when the service ran a drop-in youth centre.

We were told many stories about the Youthpoint staff providing support with clothes, housing, employment, homework and other specialist services for dyslexia or additional needs. In one community, we found that Youthpoint had brought local young people and elderly residents together to organise and create a Burns supper, with silver service provided by the young people.

Sometimes all that was required was a kind face and someone with a listening ear. One young lad we met called Benny had been heavily involved in alcohol and drug use for several years. He met youth workers on the street one night and they encouraged him to attend a local boxing club. Benny eventually became so immersed in the sport that he gave up drinking and using drugs, devoted himself to boxing training and eventually went semi-professional. Through working with the youth workers, other young people gained the confidence and self-belief to take college courses and start apprenticeships. In the final set of interviews we conducted, it was evident that the young people regarded the youth workers as friends, mentors and confidantes. Stevie, aged 14, admitted: "I trust them more than I trust myself", while 15-year-old Sharon said: "They're always there ... they've helped me through so much."

Every day, thousands of youth workers across Scotland such as those working for Youthpoint help our young people to be the successful, confident, effective and responsible individuals. By putting a focus on early and effective intervention through strategies such as street work, they often prevent a range of situations arising that can adversely affect the lives of young people and their communities.

Unfortunately the sustainability of initiatives such as Youthpoint is at risk due to frontline service budget cuts and government reductions in public spending. Cost saving exercises that threaten frontline youth services will only lead to wider inequality, increased social deprivation, greater levels of anti-social behaviour and crime in our most vulnerable communities. Our evaluation provides clear evidence about the way in which services like Youthpoint are helping to make vulnerable communities flourish while also saving young lives. The words of Gavin, Benny, Stevie and Sharon are a reminder of that.