A new online platform and youth network has been launched to help young people from all the Scottish islands share their voices, views and experiences.
The Young Islanders Network will enable children and young people to help shape the delivery of the National Islands Plan, ensuring that their interests and priorities are properly considered.
The idea was developed in response to contributions from children, young people and their families through the 2019 National Islands Plan consultation, which highlighted the ambitions of young islanders and the challenges they faced.
The Scottish Government has partnered with Youth Scotland to support and deliver the network – targeting engagement from young people from primary school age through to secondary school and into young adulthood.
Visiting Orkney for the launch event, Islands Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:
“We loved this idea of grassroots youth representation from our island communities which is why we made a key commitment in our National Islands Plan to develop the Young Islanders Network.
“Today marks a really important milestone in terms of the Scottish Government’s work against this commitment, and I would like to congratulate everyone involved and thank them for their hard work.
“It also gives me immense pleasure to invite representation from the Young Islanders Network to join the delivery group looking into the implementation of our plan for the islands, ensuring that it fully considers their interests and priorities, now and into the future.”
Mike Strang Youth Scotland’s Chief Executive said:
“Through our work with young people across Scotland, we know the power of youth voice and the issues young people feel strongly about. Now, through the Young Islanders Network, we have a fantastic opportunity to listen to young people and work with them and Scottish Government to build an inclusive and meaningful community, recognising both the diversity and commonalities of our vibrant island communities.
“Youth Scotland has historically had great representation in our membership from Scotland’s island communities, and this partnership with young islanders and the Scottish Government only strengthens their access to quality youth work and how they can directly interact with the National Islands Plan building a brighter, greener more inclusive future for Young Islanders.”
Speaking about the Young Islanders Network, Kaydence, 18, a young person from the Community Learning and Development Orkney group said:
“I really like that the Young Islanders Network gives young islanders the opportunity to meet together and discuss issues that affect them. Often it can feel like you’re the only one dealing with the issue because, well, you’re on a little island – surely nobody else is dealing with the issues!
“In a nice sort of way it’s comforting to know that you’re not the only one dealing with that issue. And on top of that, we get the opportunity to try and actually do something about it and it’s wonderful to feel like you might actually have the power to improve things in your own life.”
Young Islanders Network, part of a commitment in the National Islands Plan, will consist of young people from all Scottish islands and will have a consultative role in the implementation of the National Islands Plan to ensure that their interests and priorities are fully considered.
As the Young Islanders Network develops, it will continue to be co-created and led by young islanders. Critically the children and young people will set their own agenda – based on the national and local priorities that matter to them the most.
Youth Scotland is the largest national youth work organisation in Scotland, supporting 82,500 young people, 1,730 youth groups and over 9,400 youth workers. Youth Scotland has been around since the early 20th century and has a diverse membership network – from small rural youth groups to large urban projects. The common goal is better outcomes for young people.
The membership network is made up of local youth groups of all sizes, Area Associations and Youth Scotland staff who can provide support and training on a range of youth work topics.
Find out more at https://www.youthscotland.org.uk/programmes/young-islanders-network/