Podcast Episode: Year of Young People
Category: Young people
What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.
MM - Michael McEwan
KD - Kevin Ditcham
CS - Cameron Smith
MM On this episode of Iriss.fm we are going to hear about the ‘Year of Young People’. 2018 is the ‘Year of Young People’ here in Scotland, and I went to speak to one of them, but an Ambassador for this campaign this year is Cameron Smith, but first of all I spoke to the Project Manager for the ‘Year of Young People’, Kevin Ditcham, and first of all I asked Kevin to tell us why this year is the ‘Year of Young People’.
KD So this is 2018. It’s Scotland’s ‘Year of Young People’, which is a world first. It’s the first time any country in the world has celebrated young people in this way for an entire year. It’s part of the Scottish Government and VisitScotland series of themed years that Scotland’s been celebrating since 2009. So it started with the ‘Year of Homecoming’ and we’ve had everything from ‘Food and Drink’, ‘History, Heritage and Archaeology’ to this year which is ‘Year of Young People’, but this year’s a wee bit different cos it’s about celebrating young people who live in Scotland, as well as doing what themed years do normally as well in terms of bringing a lot of tourism to Scotland and bringing people to explore this great country. So we’re doing that with our young people as well but also young people have been involved who live in Scotland in terms of celebrating themselves and their peers and communities and really kind of trying to reduce stigma about young people in their communities in Scotland.
MM So you’ve got six key themes of this year. So can you tell us a bit about them and why do you come up with the themes?
KD Yeah, cool. So the themes are Education, Enterprise and Regeneration, Culture, Health and Wellbeing, Equality and Discrimination, and Participation, and those themes came from young people directly themselves. So from 2015 Young Scot, Children in Scotland and the Scottish Youth Parliament have been working with the Scottish Government to kind of work with young people to co-design what the year should look like. So there’s been conversations happening in kind of schools and youth centres and town halls and stadiums, do you know, anywhere where a conversation could happen, and from those conversations, from those discussion days with young people it was apparent that these were the most important themes for young people. These were the things that young people felt most passionate about and what brought alive discussions. So it was felt that these six themes should be represented during the ‘Year of Young People’. So any activity that’s happening in ‘Year of Young People’ has to kind of meet one of these six key themes to show kind of that co-design process with young people.
MM So how many people have you got signed up to be an Ambassador for this year?
KD Yeah, so we had over five hundred people, five hundred young people aged eight to twenty-six show interest in the Ambassador programme, and we have over three hundred young people who are signed up to be Ambassadors just now. So it’s a huge achievement to have that many young people in Scotland who want to play a kind of active role in their communities to promote ‘Year of Young People’, whether that is sharing things on social media or attending events, representing their area at events or delivering their own events. There’s a huge kind of range of activity that Ambassadors have been getting up to depending on their own time and availability as well, but it’s great to see that so many young people have cared passionately about ‘Year of Young People’ and celebrated it and thought it was a good thing for them and their communities and really kind of owned the year as well. I think that’s really important that young people felt it was a year for them, and that was kind of quite special.
MM Do you feel though people’s kind of like confidence has …?
KD Yeah. So it’s been really interesting actually to watch young people who have maybe had no experience of volunteering before the ‘Year of Young People’, and because the ‘Year of Young People’ there was such a big hype around the recruitment for the Ambassador programme they’ve come on board, they’ve taken that step, they’ve started volunteering, and just watching their confidence grow has been really kind of exciting and special and kind of helping them to reflect back on that journey that they’ve been on has been really kind of important through supporting the young people to take part in Youth Achievement Awards or Participative Democracy Certificates or kind of further achievement kind of awards that show that journey that they’ve been on, and Saltire Awards as well which is a great recognition for their hours of commitment in their local areas. So, but yeah, no definitely. The kind of energy that young people have built up I suppose over the year has been really exciting to watch.
MM And looking ahead to the next year have you got any other themes coming up this year?
KD Yeah. So the ‘Year of Young People’ is the last themed year that the Scottish Government is running every year. So after this year they’ll go to every two years. So the next themed year will be in 2020 and that will be the ‘Year of Scotland’s Coasts and Waters’. So hopefully we’ll see some legacy from ‘Year of Young People’ and see more of kind of how those organisations that are delivering activity under ‘Year of Coasts and Waters’, how they maybe look to involve young people in new ways, and we’re already seeing organisations really kind of embrace young people and everything from getting young people on boards of charities right up to just having young people around the table when they’re designing an event or an activity or anything that impacts the lives of young people. There’s more and more organisations that as a result of ‘Year of Young People’ are seeing the benefit of doing that and involving young people in that true non-tokenistic engagement co-design process that really gets young people’s voices across, and that sharing of power between young people and people who normally hold power in terms of decision makers. It’s been really interesting to see that power balance shift during ‘Year of Young People’ and more power being given to young people to make better decisions about their lives.
MM So tell me now about you’ve got people with disabilities involved. I suppose the question about that is how many people with a learning disability or a physical disability have you got involved, and I take it they’ve been working with the teams as well?
KD Yeah, absolutely. So we’ve got lots of young people who have either hidden disabilities of visible disabilities or on a huge range of kind of disabilities I suppose where they self-identified as living with a disability on maybe their application form. So we’ve got Ambassadors who are supported in that way to take part fully in the Ambassador programme, to take part fully in the year. We work really closely with the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability and yeah, it’s been really exciting to kind of watch those young people being so fully involved as well in the year and make sure that it’s an equitable process and that young people living with disabilities feel as able to take part as any young person living without disability is. So working with partners has been really important, and Children in Scotland have been helping us do that as well in terms of making sure that we make things non-stigmatising I suppose for any young person with any form of additional needs, and there’s been lots of events around Scotland as well in terms of funded events through the Create 18 programme that young people have put on and celebrated for them as groups of young people living with disabilities. So in Dundee there was an event where it was ‘Scottish Visually Impaired Football’ that Enable Scotland ran. So there’s been lots of kind of exciting things like that happening, and then Cameron here at the Commission was front and centre for the Learning Disability Awards this year. So that was really special as well that young people were embraced in that. So yeah, it’s been really great.
MM Okay, thank you. So Cameron, tell us how did you hear about the ‘Year of Young People’?
CS So I first heard about the ‘Year of Young People’ through the Scottish Government and Young Scot Twitter. I didn’t really know anything about it. So I went onto the Young Scot website and the ‘Year of Young People’ website and there was more information about it there.
MM And then what happened when you applied to be one of the Ambassadors?
CS So I done my application form online and then a few weeks later I got an email to say I was successful, and then I went to induction training at Young Scot headquarters in Edinburgh. After I’d done my training I signed my Ambassador contract and that was me.
MM So why did you want to get involved in the ‘Year of Young People’?
CS So I decided to get involved in the ‘Year of Young People’ by talking to one of my friends who is in another part of the ‘Year of Young People’. She’s part of the Communications Team who are the ones that are co-designing the ‘Year of Young People’. So after talking to her she suggested that I should apply to be an Ambassador, and that’s sort of why I got involved. You also get involved because it’s a great experience and it’s great for the CV as well.
MM So now can you tell us what does your role involve as an Ambassador?
CS So my role as an Ambassador is to work as part of a team of around four plus young people in my local authority to support local ‘Year of Young People’ events, promote the six ‘Year of Young People’ themes in my local authority, get involved in ‘Year of Young People’ activates, attend special events which I’ll go on to in a wee minute, speak at many special meetings, so like Cross-Party Group meetings, meetings with the Scottish Government Ministers, and that’s kind of only some of my things. There’s a huge list of things that Ambassadors do. I don’t want to bore you today with them!
MM Yeah. Busy, busy!
CS Busy, busy. Yeah.
MM Busy man, and did it start from the beginning of this year, like January?
CS So my involvement at the ‘Year of Young People’ started back in October when I tried for the last lot of Ambassadors. There’s about three hundred plus Ambassadors across Scotland. So my kind of Ambassador started in October this year but the actual main activities of ‘Year of Young People’ started just after Christmas and New Year.
MM And do you like it, yeah?
CS I do, yeah. It’s really, really good.
MM So tell us now Cameron about your events. You’ve been a busy man, so just give us a kind of overview of the events and what have people been saying about the feedback that you’ve been speaking to at the events?
CS So I’ll quickly run through the events that I’ve kind of been to and then I’ll kind of come on to the second part if that’s okay?
CS So some of the events that I’ve kind of been to, my very first big event was a special St. Andrew’s Day reception at Edinburgh Castle hosted by Nicola Sturgeon, but actually hosted by another Ambassador who was MC of the evening. So I went to the ‘Year of Young People’ national Ambassador event which is an event that brings all Ambassadors together across the country for fun, some talks, some co-designing work, some workshops. I got invited out to Berlin on a UK Scottish German connections trip which was co-designing workshops with people in Berlin. Moving on from that they’ve got a plan to host a weekend in Edinburgh and a weekend in Berlin bringing lots of people together, and one other big thing that I’ve been involved in through the ‘Year of Young People’ is the Edinburgh International Culture Summit which happened in August, and we got involved with that because the Culture Summit staff were looking for six ‘Year of Young People’ Ambassadors to go in to help them with the Summit, and another big thing that I’ve done for the ‘Year of Young People’, and it’s probably my bigger sort of achievement, is last year doing Scotland’s Learning Disability Awards run by the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability. I did a speech on behalf of Louise MacDonald, the Chief Executive of Young Scot, on behalf of the ‘Year of Young People’ as well. So that was my biggest sort of achievement.
MM Oh well done!
MM So this year the ‘Year of Young People’ ends at the end of this year, is that right?
CS So the ‘Year of Young People’ ends, so officially doesn’t end the end of this year. Ambassador roles are up to the end of March 2019 because of some of the projects and stuff. Funding finishes the end of March 2019, so the main events of the ‘Year of Young People’ calendar ends December 2018 but some of the other events in local authorities ends March 2019 because of their funding.
MM And I think, well you’ve told us about the events but I take it you’ve got more events coming up?
CS Yeah, so one of the big events that I’m going to is the Young Scot Awards which is a night to celebrate young people in Scotland. So they started, Young Scot Awards is a massive, massive event, but apart from that I don’t really have any more kind of events that I can tell you at this stage coming up because they’re all in the planning works.
MM Okay, well good luck for the rest of the year Cameron!
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