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Youngsters grill First Minister

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Nicola Sturgeon answered questions on a range of issues at First Minister’s Question Time Next Generation

Youngsters had the chance to grill the First Minister on a range of topics this week.

Nicola Sturgeon told an audience of young people about horrific comments on her social media channels, why her government is not doing well enough on mental health, that she would still dingy Donald Trump – and why she hated her first job.

She was taking part in First Minister’s Question Time Next Generation, held in Edinburgh earlier this week and run by national charities Children in Scotland and YouthLink Scotland.

Mental health was again a key theme for FMQT Next Generation. Riana, aged 19 and from West Dunbartonshire, asked whether the Scottish Government would invest more money in mental health support services. Despite being through the system of CAMHS, she was not diagnosed until aged 18 by adult services. She told the First Minister that the current system had failed her.

The First Minister said that a lot of work and investment was going in to this area and there were now more counsellors in schools, but admitted that: “On mental health we still don’t do enough of that and we don’t do it well enough.”

Responding to questions about the protection of current EU laws post-Brexit, the First Minister hit out at hardline Brexiteers, arguing that they see advantage in reducing protections for workers and the environment. She described Jacob Rees Mogg as “coming from the 17th century” and said that some politicians in the UK are guilty of “exploiting people’s fears”.

The First Minister revealed that she sleeps five hours a night. She also talked about her first job selling tattie scones around doors in Dreghorn, which she hated so much that she used to get her dad to do it instead.

Sturgeon said: “The decisions taken by government and other policy makers will have a profound impact on the lives of today’s young people and those in the future. That’s why it is vital that their voices are heard and their views listened to.

“It’s important that we empower children and young people to have their say on the issues that they face – the FMQT event is a great way to do that and I was delighted to have the opportunity to be involved for a second time.”

Jackie Brock, chief executive of Children in Scotland, said: “This second event proves why FMQT Next Generation is quickly becoming a fixture of political debate in Scotland, and we are particularly grateful to the young people on the project Design Team for how they have led and shaped it.”

“It again made clear that young people’s insights are invaluable as we celebrate their contribution to our national life and discuss the improvements we must make for them. The challenge for the Scottish Government now is to keep listening to them in a meaningful way and take forward the vital issues they are raising through the project.”

Tim Frew, chief executive of YouthLink Scotland, said: “Brexit, mental health, the cost of transport, free school meals, these are just some of the issues that directly affect young people. It’s important that we take the right of children to be heard, seriously.

“FMQT Next Generation is a national platform where young people can give their views and concerns directly to Scotland’s most powerful politician. As part of the legacy of Year of Young People we want to ensure that youth participation at both national and local level is embedded into the decision process for government, parliament and councils.”