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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Giving young people a voice in Scottish politics

This opinion piece is over 4 years old

Emily Beever discusses how a new initiative, entitled FMQT Next Generation, aims to help young people participate in high level politics

At the heart of youth work is young people’s participation. It runs through our Youth Work Outcomes, is a key ambition of the National Youth Work Strategy, is one of the six Year of Young People 2018 themes, and of course, is a right for all children and young people as outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Adults have many avenues through which to hold the government to account – voting, speaking to local politicians and protesting, to name a few. This is often not the case for children and young people, especially those too young to vote or those who find it difficult to have their voice heard. This is where youth work steps up.

Emily Beever, YouthLink Scotland
Emily Beever, YouthLink Scotland

In Scotland, we have strong traditions of children and young people’s participation in the statutory and voluntary youth work sectors. Youth Forums across the country give young people the opportunity to be heard on local issues that matter to them and the Scottish Youth Parliament, older even than the Scottish Parliament, has been providing a system for young people’s representation since 1999.

Over the last year, SYP has grown its participation with an annual cabinet meeting in partnership with the Children’s Parliament. MSYPs and MCPs discuss key issues with the First Minister and eleven cabinet secretaries. The last meeting saw discussion on issues such as children’s rights, Brexit and Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) policy.

Inspired by the First Minister’s Question Time in the Scottish Parliament, we sought to put together a child-friendly version where children and young people could scrutinise at the highest level. We worked with a group of ten children and young people aged 9 to 16 to co-design a bi-annual FMQT Next Generation event.

In September, 100 children and young people will come together to ask the First Minister questions on issues that matter to them. The event will be filmed and published online to encourage wider engagement.

We don’t want participation in FMQT Next Generation to start and stop with the in-person event either. We have designed a resource to support youth workers, teachers, carers, parents and other practitioners working with young people to discuss issues that matter to them and how they can have their voices heard.

FMQT Next Generation is designed to be inclusive, child-friendly, and to provide a real challenge to the government. We want it to become a constant part of children and young people’s participation in Scotland, whichever party is in government, whoever is in the role of First Minister.

Emily Beever is senior development officer at YouthLink Scotland



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