Scottish Government – Work Experience Programme with the Social Justice Strategy Unit

Hopes, fears and impressions

I love the idea of coming into Glasgow city centre to work, as it is very interesting compared to school which is often rather boring and repetitive.  The office was light, bright and open plan which isn’t what I was expecting it to be like as it is very modern.  Everyone in the office has been very welcoming and willing to help or answer any questions or queries that I had.  Most of my friends were working in shops and schools and didn’t know what they were going to do whilst on their work experience placement.  As I was told in advance what my work timetable for the week would be I was less stressed about going to my work experience placement.

Through my work experience I hope to gain an understanding of how the Scottish Government works.  I think the initial plan for the week is good as it is a varied workload and it will give me a varied insight into the working life of a civil servant.  The part of my schedule that I am most looking forward to is Thursday as I am traveling to parliament to watch First Ministers Questions (FMQ).  I am looking forward to this as I love watching political debates and speeches as they are engaging and sometimes rather amusing.  My favourite part of my first day was talking to Karen about what the Scottish Government does and how the interact with government ministers.

Tuesday working and beginning to settle

On Tuesday I did some research for Karen and went to seminar on ‘family friendly working’ which aimed to give workers more flexible hours of work allowing them to spend more time with their family.  In the seminar there were employers from many businesses who were interested in family friendly working schemes.  The seminar wasn’t the most interesting however, it highlighted a key issue in society which is the work life balance.  The aim of the seminar was to show employers how they could improve employees work life.  After the seminar I continued some research for a ministers briefing which Karen had asked me to do, which isn’t the easiest thing to do as all the information sources contradict each other.  After this I attended their team meeting where they discussed what the aims for the months and weeks ahead were and how they were going to achieve them, although half of the graphs and tables representing information about poverty in Scotland were rather confusing.

Once the meeting had finished I went to meet the Rent Services department and they told me about all the different work that they under take on a daily basis. Rent Services deal with issues such as private rental accommodation by dealing with rogue landlords and survey properties and give them a rental  estimate of how much a property should rent for based on the number of bedrooms and living rooms; the aim of this is to avoid people being overcharged for a property.  I learned that they also have the power to stop a landlord from renting out a property if it is not fit for human inhabitancy and therefore they will condemn the property meaning that it cannot be rented out until the owner completes the necessary repairs.  Over all I feel that Tuesday has be a more relaxed day and I feel that I have begun to settle in a bit more  as I have been introduced to more people in the office and I am more aware of the work that I will have to do whilst my work placement.

Wednesday hump day with a lot of speed bumps

On Wednesday morning I helped Karen and Andrew with their Fairer Scotland presentation that they had created for pupils form John Paul Academy to answer questions that they had asked as part of their assignment.  When they ran through the presentation there were a couple of things that needed further explanation, but overall the presentation was gauged at a correct level of language and wasn’t too technical.

Afterwards I spoke to Matthew about Modern Apprenticeships (MA) with the Scottish government.  He told me about how he himself was granted a MA placement, and what he is required to do as part of that placement.  I then asked him if you had to have any exam passes to which the answer was no; this was good news as I was asking on behalf of my little brother who has dyscalculia (dyslexia with numbers),  as he would possibly be interested in this sort of job when he is older as he finds it very hard at school and wouldn’t be able to go to university.  After lunch Karen helped me create a CV so that if I look for a part time job then I would have a CV that would stand out from the rest.

After this I met with Donna who is a member of the Regeneration Unit.  I learned that the Regeneration Unit is very important and plays a vital role in eradicating poverty and in Scotland by helping communities take control of local buildings and working with them to help people from deprived backgrounds in their community.  I learned about all the work that is being undertaken to help deprived areas and communities and the different types of funding and government grants that are available to people to help their communities flourish.  I also learned about the role that the regeneration team played in the re-gentrification of the East End of Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games and some of the work that is still going on as part of the Commonwealth Legacy.

For the rest of the afternoon I sat with Andrew and Karen whilst they delivered their presentation on the Fairer Scotland project, to the pupils of John Paul Academy and they answered any questions which the pupils had about the government’s strategy to tackling child poverty.  Overall I feel that Wednesday was a rather good day as I didn’t have to do much work compared to Tuesday.

Thursday – non-stop learning

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On Thursday morning Shona took me on a very early train to Edinburgh to meet the ‘climate change’ team at the government’s Victoria Quay office.  Whilst I was there I met Gavin who is a member the Scottish Governments climate change unit.  He told me about all the important work that Scotland is undertaking in order to lower its emissions in the effort to become a carbon neutral economy.  During our meeting I learned about ways in which First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and her government will do in order to tackle climate change and stop the threat global warming poses.  He was very interested in the ways in which my school sources its water and heating as he didn’t know of schools which were doing these things in order to have a lower carbon footprint.  I also learned about the new offshore wind farms that are planned to be instated off the coast of Scotland and the technology and design of the turbines which will allow the government  to undertake this ambitious project.

After this we travelled to the Scottish Parliament to watch FMQ which was very interesting as I got to see all the politicians and watch them quiz the first minister who tried to dodge questions. My one complaint about the experience would be that the seats were wooden and didn’t have any padding which was rather uncomfortable.  After FMQ we walked to Saint Andrews house to meet the elections team, although I think Shona almost died as her short cut her phone told her about involved a massive hill.  When we eventually reached Saint Andrews house I met Rebecca who is a member of the elections team in the Scottish Government.  When we went in she told me about all the work that the elections team does and how they prepare for elections or referenda.  She told me about the role that her team is playing in the upcoming  council elections and their new electronic system which they have developed to count the votes and the breaking point of the system which is 200,000 votes; but it isn’t expected that it will be required to count that number of votes as council elections usually have a low turnout rate.  Overall I think that Thursday was by far the most exciting and interesting days I loved visiting the parliament and watching FMQ.

Finally Friday

On Friday I have finished at least half of my CV and looked over my week in the Scottish Government.  I will have completed this blog  and my school work experience booklet by the end of today.  After finishing some more of my CV I had a meeting with the employability for young people division. When I met Paul he started by telling me about what the employability for young people unit does.  I learned that his department deal with schemes such as the modern and foundation apprenticeships, he also told me about Skills Development Scotland and the careers advisers that work for them.  He also told me about the stigmas attached to apprenticeships and how they are tackling these.  I also learned that the number of school aged pupils staying on till 5th & 6th year is increasing which is a positive thing as it means that more people are going on to university and college therefore going on to get better jobs when they are older.

Looking back and looking forward

Throughout my week in the Scottish Government I have learned a lot about the structure of government and the work that goes on behind the scenes to help the government function.  By far the best part of my week was going to FMQ as I love watching debates and political question time.  I will be sad to leave the government as it has been so much fun and I have learned a lot and I would highly recommend it for other people looking to do work experience in politics and current affairs.

Consultation on ending Child Poverty

Key dates – Monday 8 August to Friday 30 September

This consultation sets our proposals for a Child Poverty Bill for Scotland that will:

o Enshrine in legislation the Scottish Government’s ambition to eradicate child poverty.

o Place a duty on Scottish Ministers to publish a Child Poverty Delivery Plan every 5 years, and to report on that Plan annually.

o Set statutory income targets.

Links

News release: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Consultation-on-ending-child-poverty-284c.aspx

To reply to the consultation please use this linkhttps://consult.scotland.gov.uk/social-justice/consultation-on-a-child-poverty-bill-for-scotland

Work Experience in the Scottish Government

A Work Experience Student from James Hamilton Academy, Kilmarnock writes about ‘life as a Civil Servant’ for a week.

Why politics at 14?

At the age of 14, the Scottish Independence Referendum had a major impact on my outlook on life and my goals. As a strong Yes supporter without a vote I was extremely heartbroken when the results came through and Clackmannanshire set the tone for the night. After the vote, I didn’t give up, I became an activist. Over the last two years I have been extremely interested in politics and have been encouraged to do something about the huge unfairness on the working class of Scotland. I have been trying to improve my political knowledge and experience in any way possible. When I found out about the Fairer Scotland event in Kilmarnock, I knew I just had to go.

I was majorly impressed to hear that Government were going out and about into communities to let them have their say on a Fairer Scotland. When have the government previously journeyed to Kilmarnock to actually listen to the views of the people? I went along with a few friends from Yes East Ayrshire and was really amazed at the set up! I had the image of a formal meeting, suits, rows of seats and hushed silences not tables with sticky notes and pens, people in jeans and t-shirts and to actually have a discussion led by the people who were in the room not someone talking to us.

How did I end up in 5 Atlantic Quay for a week?

Being the youngest person at the event at 15, I felt this gave me an ideal opportunity to give my personal input on issues surrounding the youth and how the Scottish Government could help with this. After giving my views around the table and after some debating with my fellow participators Karen – an amazingly kind, hardworking member of the Social Justice team – mentioned the opportunity to do work experience in the Scottish Government if that would be of interest to me? Obviously I was delighted! I was hugely interested in the work of the Government and thought this would be a great opportunity to really find out.

I arranged my work experience with the school and was shocked at how bad the WorkIt system was for pupils. WorkIt is a ‘web application which provides pupils, school and local authority coordinators and Health and Safety officers with a single point of contact as they plan, prepare and take part in work placements. It ensures that everyone is kept informed and can track their involvement in the work placement programme.’.

It definitely doesn’t do what it says on the tin…….. It has hardly any work experience that related to pupils preferences and also their preferred future aims in relation to jobs. I was one of the extremely lucky pupils who got something which could be useful to them in the future. Most were stuck in Kilmarnock doing jobs such as cleaning a gym and being a barista for a week when they wanted to be a mortician or a graphic designer! I’m also very lucky as I have been able to travel to Glasgow to do this. I was the only pupil allowed to leave the Kilmarnock area! I was lucky I got out without being tagged.

The anticipation, visions and surprises

On the build-up to my first day I had formed a vision in my head of the building being immensely bland, and for the staff to be super formal, smart and very ‘yes minister’ type. Well, what I surprise I got, huge glass tower, funky décor, modern, spacious, good IT equipment and decent grub. And the civil servants of Atlantic Quay wore pink glittery lanywards, jeans, trainers, t-shirts, some suits, dresses, colourful  and even mosher style. All smart but casual and smiling, didn’t think that would happen! Everyone I met was so friendly and happy to talk to you! I was worried that they would look down on me as a working class girl from Ayrshire but it was the complete opposite. I was so lucky to be met with such an amazing team in the Social Justice and Regeneration Division. It was made up by some of the best people you could meet. They were all so welcoming and I felt part of the team straight away.

There was one thing though…

Despite the positives, there were a few things I noticed that I feel needs to be addressed. The lack of ethnic minorities within the government I feel is concerning, it’s an issue in politics in general but also in Scotland and the UK in general. Much more needs to be done to get those who wouldn’t normally be interested in politics or those who are deterred involved. Another thing I noticed was  the lack of those with disabilities within the government. I understand that people from within Government are trying to change these issues and I welcome this and give full support. I felt comfortable enough to feed this back this back to the division who seem to have taken it on board.

Day 1 – Antics and excitement

I was introduced to the House Team and was given a tour around the windowed roasting glass tower. I was happy to hear of the partnership between John Paul Academy, in Summerston, and the Scottish Government. We need more youth involvement in both politics and Government. My favourite part of the day and week was that I met with policy officials from zero hours contracts. I grasped this opportunity with both hands to engage in a debate and give my side of the argument. It was truly a memorable debate and feel that my points were listened to but understood the challenges that Scottish Government face and how difficult it is for them to change things for the better.

Day 2 – Unique Opportunities

On Tuesday my schedule was changed last minute to include a meeting with Jeane Freeman, the new Minister for Social Security. Believe it or not, not many civil servants actually meet the Ministers that they serve let alone having them come in and personally meet their team.

After my introduction to Minister I spoke to the Social Justice Delivery team who focus on food poverty and informed about the government’s plans and actions to help those in need. I was surprised to hear of the work Centrestage does within my area in Ayrshire. I had no idea of the work that went on literally up my street.

Despite not being able to meet those who focus on the Named Persons Act I had the opportunity to email them with questions as this is an area I’m interested in and sceptical on. I was glad that the team I was working with were doing all they could to give me as much experience as possible.

Day 3 – A trip to the Capital

Off to Edinburgh to meet the Elections Team and visit the Young Scot. When Shona – an energetic, spectacular team member with hope and real life experience – and I got to St Andrew’s House we spoke with the Team Leader of the elections team who Shona used to work with. She informed me about the work they do but also that the day was unique due to the issue of the registration to vote in the EU referendum had crashed and they had to prepare for the possibility of it coming up in First Ministers Questions. The whole building was buzzing and a bit more stressed than usual.  It really was a unique experience for anyone in Government but as an ‘outsider’ it was fascinating.

Next stop was to find out about the work of Young Scot as I had no idea of all the work they done.  Most young people my age just know about the card and the discounts available but I don’t feel that they truly showcase the other amazing work that they do. They do a lot of great stuff such as day schools and giving young people the opportunity to work in teams to create new innovative ideas.

Day 4 – My 15 minutes of fame

On day one and within an hour of starting they asked if I would be willing to deliver a presentation on my working week. It was to be delivered at a Divisional meeting and I had the scope to deliver it however was most comfortable for me. I chose just to talk and had a PowerPoint to speak to – the latter designed by Andrew, a diligent worker who was an incredible pleasure to be a fellow team member with. It went down a treat and I was thankfully for all the amazing and positive feedback. It was great to get this experience as I quite enjoy public speaking but being able to present to a division in the government is a very original experience for anyone let alone a 15 year old girl from Ayrshire.

After my 15 minutes of fame I found out more on the Modern Apprenticeships and Graduate Interns in the Scottish Government and thought this was a good opportunity for youth to get involved in areas like the government if they felt school wasn’t for them.

Day 5 – The end of this journey but the start of another

Friday was sadly my last day. I was truly disappointed that I had to leave such an amazing environment and team but was so thankful for the opportunity to actually get into the Government  and witness first-hand the hard work of the civil servants and how all the cogs work behind the scenes.

I feel that too much thanks and praise is placed on MSPs and ministers. In reality it is the civil servants that are the real cement in the government and keeping things together. Overall I have enjoyed my time at the Scottish Government so much and I am so glad I had the amazing chance to experience the ‘life of a civil servant’.

I am looking forward to the next part of my political journey whether it be in the Civil Service or challenging them. We shall see what doors and opportunities open for me as I start chapping away and having my voice heard.

 

To find out more please see the following links

The Fantastic Four of Southcraig Campus

An inspirational chat with four awesome students…..truly the ’Fantastic Four’.

On the 10th November I had the honour of meeting four remarkable young adults at Southcraig Campus, Ayr. Their teacher, Yvonne, had written to the Fairer Scotland Team [via the mailbox!] inviting me to talk with the fantastic pupils of Southcraig campus, who had something to say about a ‘Fairer Scotland by 2030’.

The students of Southcraig are all on the autism spectrum and often have very complex additional and/or supporting needs. There are 97 students, from pre-school to 19 years-of-age, with a comparable number of teachers on-hand to support through their school years.

Some of the students need one-one support. The four students I met with – Harley, Rory, Louis and Zoe – were in the senior phase of their schooling, aged between 15 and 19. My fantastic four, all of whom have additional and complex needs in everyday life and learning.

We started with an explanation of the Fairer Scotland initiative and discussed how it was important to have our say in this. We then focused on what fair and unfair mean, using scenarios on cards to decide if a situation was fair or unfair.

The four picked 6 topics that were of most importance to them. Over a five week period they discussed the topics and articulated their thoughts of ’what mattered to them?’ on a poster and a video.

What was different?
Through the entire Fairer Scotland journey – meeting dozens of communities and organisations – the team often returned to a central issue. That of Social inequality. This visit was no different.

What was different was the way the four described their vision for the future, designing their own posters to express what they believed Scotland would look like. In fact, what a fairer country looks like.

Not only did they design an amazing poster, but they also had the courage to stand up and speak about their ideal world as part of an ‘SVQ N2 Talking and Listening’ class award. They delivered their visions with confidence and pride – in front of the camera (something that a lot of people would find too intimidating to even contemplate).

What mattered to them?
Some of the common elements central to the Fairer Scotland conversation include areas like housing, welfare reform, health and income and employment. However, Harley, Rory, Louis and Zoe’s focused on:

  • Being safe
  • Money
  • Being healthy
  • Jobs
  • Being Equal and
  • Being included.

The leading light for the Fantastic Four was their wonderful teacher, Yvonne Cameron. From the outset, Yvonne was on-hand to help them with their conversation, ensuring the students said what they wanted to say.

“We started with an explanation of the Fairer Scotland initiative and discussed how it was important to have our say in this. We then focused on what fair and unfair mean, using scenarios on cards to decide if a situation was fair or unfair.

We moved on to discuss what is important to young people in a Fairer Scotland. Each week we looked at a different aspect eg. money, jobs, equality, good health, being safe, being valued and most importantly for our young people, inclusion. We discussed this fully and then videoed each individual pupil’s input. During the Scottish Government visit we looked at all of the contributions and challenged our young people to narrow their suggestions down to the most important item to them under each heading.

This has been a really interesting and enlightening project. I have known these four young people for several years and through this class I know a lot more about what is important to them.”

Sure enough, all four students had a lot to say about the kind of Scotland we all want to see.

Zoe’s Vision
Zoe would like to see:

  • Being equal – people who sign should get the same chances
  • Money – families should have enough so that poor people can get home
  • Being healthy – looking after the environment keeps us healthy
  • Being included – people should play together and not leave anybody out
  • Jobs – jobs should have good wages
  • Being safe – tell the police if you are getting bullied. If you don’t, they can’t help you.
15-year-old girl standing next to a poster of how he sees a 'Fairer Scotland' by 2030.
15-year-old Zoe just wants “To learn skills to go to work”.

Zoe is interested in drama and is a very confident and articulated speaker. She said she was nervous, but you would never have known. She was brilliant. Zoe is the youngest of the group and explained that she often feels safer at home – just now, she couldn’t think about being on her own.

Rory’s Vision
Rory would like to see:

  • Being equal – people in wheelchairs should get the same chances
  • Money – more money to live on my own and money to go to college
  • Being healthy – going to the dentist gives me healthy teeth
  • Being included – ramps for buildings
  • Jobs – to learn skills to go to work
  • Being safe – hospitals keep us safe.
A lad standing next to a poster of how he sees a 'Fairer Scotland' by 2030.
Rory would like to see “People in wheelchairs should get the same chances.”

Rory would like to be able to live on his own one day. He was very shy, but delivered his story very well, and was proud that he done it. We all were. Rory was very interested in ensuring he had the opportunity to speak up for his friends in school. He felt many of them would not feel confident speaking out about the issues and difficulties they face, on a day-to-day basis. He explained that many of them felt they simply didn’t have the same chances as others, because they were in a wheelchair. It was a very admirable and thoughtful gesture, and I was taken back by Rory’s selflessness in thinking about his fellow students.

Harley’s Story
Harley – AKA ‘Miss Chatterbox’ – was on the ball from the outset, and a fantastic host. Harley wanted to see:

  • Being equal – boys and girls have the same chances
  • Money – more money for people to buy food
  • Being healthy – opportunities to go to free dancing and exercise classes keeps us healthy
  • Being included – everybody should have the chance to play
  • Jobs – work experience like “work out” will help me get a job
  • Being safe – I don’t want to live on my own. I want to stay with my mum and dad. They keep me safe.
A girl standing next to a poster of how he sees a 'Fairer Scotland' by 2030.
15-year-old Harley wants “Opportunities to go to free dancing and exercise classes keeps us healthy.”

Harley’s passion is dancing and exercise and she often accompanies her sister, a dance teacher, at classes. She loves keeping fit and being a social butterfly. Harley is the oldest of the group and it was clear that she really cares for her fellow students and the teachers. She really does have a heart of gold.

Louis’s Story

17-year-old lad standing next to a poster of how he sees a 'Fairer Scotland' by 2030.
17-year-old Louis just wants “People should treat me the age I am”.

Louis is a tall, strong, strapping lad who can’t wait to live on his own. All he wants is to be treated as an adult, and the thriving 17-year-old he is – not as a child. Louis is passionate about web access for all, so he can learn and gather advice on things that he is interested in.

  • Being equal – everyone should have access to Youtube
  • Money – we need more money in schools to buy things for leisure time and fun
  • Being healthy – getting the chance to eat cheap healthy food and drink bottled water
  • Being included – people should treat me the age I am
  • Jobs – get the chance to go to work
  • Being safe – watch out for animals. Keep animals safe. I don’t want to see animals run over.

Memories
My Fantastic Four were uber excited to have us along as it gave them the chance to have their voices heard by the Scottish Government. They put a lot of time and effort into their projects and were delighted that they could showcase them for us.

From the outset of the Fairer Scotland conversation, the Scottish Government wanted to engage with and encourage people across Scotland – in particular those with lived experiences of inequalities and who don’t normally get the chance to discuss the things that are important to them.

Harley, Rory, Louis and Zoe certainly did that – and in the most dynamic, interesting and fun way. It really was a truly memorable experience.

What next?
The Fairer Scotland conversation is on-going. We want to make sure we continue to engage with those who have helped us through this journey so far. Now, we plan to delve a bit deeper into “what’s changed?” and “what still has to be done?“.

My Fantastic Four are going to help me kick start this next chapter, and I’ll make sure they are very much part of this adventure. ‘Real Lives, Real People’.

Watch this space.

More information
Southcraig Campus, Ayr
Southcraig Campus, Ayr, is a Primary and secondary special school for pupils with additional support needs.

Autistic Spectrum
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.

Learning from the Children and Young People Summit, Oban

Poster from Young People's Summit
It is vital that today’s young people have the confidence and skills to influence decisions around them and participate in wider civic society.
Pam Semple (Policy Analyst, Scottish Government).

On 24th August 2015, over 100 children and young people from primary and secondary schools across Scotland came together in Oban to discuss their views on educational attainment, rural challenges, participation and children’s rights in A Fairer Scotland.

The feedback from this Children and Young People’s Summit was informative.

The Summit follows Curriculum for Excellence and the goal of ensuring that children and young people are at the heart of decisions which affect them and their education.

It is vital that today’s young people have the confidence and skills to influence decisions around them and participate in wider civic society.

Our young people are the nation’s key asset in helping shape the future Scotland we all want to live in.

A Fairer Scotland? How?
Before a Q and A with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Angela Constance, attendees were provided with some background information on the goals of the Fairer Scotland campaign – before being set specific questions to consider:

  • What do you think a fairer or more socially just Scotland would look like?
  • What do you think the Scottish Government could do differently?
  • What could schools do to help shape our future?
  • What could you and your friends or family do?
  • What would be the best way of getting more children and young people’s views on fairness and social justice?
  • Who could best run discussions with children and young people?

Feedback
The core feedback from all attendees outlined some fundamental requirements for change – with much of the chatter focusing on hugely important issues like equality, employment and the need for free / quality education.

Specific feedback included the need for young people to:

  • have access to a job
  • have a free, quality education
  • have access to excellent healthcare
  • enjoy a reasonable income
  • have access to more Higher Education routes
  • get housing benefits [18-21 year olds]
  • be treated equally
  • have equal opportunities
  • have access to all the same activities [inc. young children]
  • be treated fairly, if you have a disability

This event was the third of a series of themed events with young people which have taken place across Scotland in the last year. These events will also help shape the Year of Young People 2018.

The Scottish Government continues to work closely with third sector organisations including Children in Scotland, Young Scotand the Scottish Youth Parliamentto ensure these events are fully inclusive to all young people including those with additional support needs, travellers and looked after children.

What’s Your Story?

What's Your Story logo.
What’s your Story,’ Scottish Book Trust’s new writer/illustrator development programme for 14-17 year olds, aims to increase youth participation in Scotland’s literary and creative culture.
Nicole Brandon, Young Writers Co-ordinator (Scottish Book Trust).

What’s your story?” – How often do we ask this of our teens in Scotland? We clearly care that they’re able to respond politically to this question, but what about creatively? What are their imagined worlds and their real-life tales? If they could tell any story, in any way, what would it be and why?

This isn’t just something to be curious about, it’s a question of fairness. There are discussions every day about what our literary culture expresses, reflects and cultivates about our society – but how often does it give voice to teens, instead of talking for them?

What happens when you ask young people that question?
Asking someone to tell you their story opens the door to enrichment for everyone involved. Among the benefits are:

  • an increase in empathy as we are given a chance to understand another’s thoughts, feelings, concerns and hopes;
  • the beginning of equity as young voices and work are given space, respect and context as part of Scotland’s literary culture;
  • and the creation of dialogues between the stories created by young people and the existing narratives, individuals and cultural movements that power Scotland’s thriving literary scene.

So why hasn’t this all happened already?
Obviously, it’s a bit disingenuous to invite somebody to take part in something when you know they don’t have access to the resources they need to join in properly. If you’re going to ask a group of people to respond creatively to the question “What’s your story?” you need to put your resources, expertise and intentions behind helping them to reply to the best of their ability.

That’s where Scottish Book Trust’s new pilot programme comes in…

What is this programme and what will it do?
What’s Your Story? is Scottish Book Trust’s new writer/illustrator development programme for 14-17 year olds throughout Scotland. Funded by Creative Scotland’s youth arts strategy – Time to Shine – the programme aims to increase youth participation in Scotland’s literary and creative culture by engaging more young people with creative writing and illustration as a relevant, useful and enjoyable part of their lives.

Creative writing & illustration is the generator of our literary culture, whether it results in a play, or a novel, a TV show or a work of fanfiction.

It is also determined that young people’s understanding of literary and creative culture includes an inclusive reflection of what they’re interested in contributing. All forms of creative writing and illustration are being included as potential work areas for young people on the programme.

Videogames, songs, comic books, movies, and stand-up routines are all the product of creative writing or illustration – and anyone interested in working in these areas to create narrative deserves to be assisted to the same degree as those working on novels and poems. Creative writing & illustration is the generator of our literary culture, whether it results in a play, or a novel, a TV show or a work of fanfiction.

The programme is currently open for applications from young people until 28 September, and offers the following writer development opportunities to the young people chosen for its ten open places.

  • Mentoring from an industry professional working in the creative writing/illustration area the young person wishes to work in. They will pass on their knowledge and skills as young people work with them to make, edit and perfect their work.
  • A weekend creative retreat.
  • Taking charge in planning a 2-day Young Writers Conference which will be held in June 2016. They will decide what will happen and who to invite as speakers.
  • Helping to imagine and build a digital platform that will reach out to other teen writers & illustrators throughout Scotland.
  • Advising on the creation of a Scotland-wide network of writers groups for teen writers & illustrators.

Scottish Book Trust logo
Scottish Book Trust is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing.
It is our aim that at the end of June 2016 there will be another ten creative writers and illustrators among Scotland’s young people, and that they will have helped us to create and deliver high-quality writer-development opportunities that their peers want and need. It will be a start towards permanently featuring young voices in Scotland’s literary culture, but certainly not the end.

How have you made the programme itself fair?
From the beginning, our programme’s guiding principles – reflecting those of Time to Shine – followed these steps:

  1. Be led by the ongoing involvement of the young people we seek to engage.
  2. Be concerned with the themes of participation (who can take part), progression (how they can develop) and provision (access to further opportunity).
  3. Be equally invested in how experience of the arts positively develops all young people, whether they are audience or creator; and regardless of if they move on to professional practice or achievement, or if they’re contented amateur enthusiasts.

Keeping these values at the forefront of the programme’s development and implementation has meant we are able to keep it accessible and inclusive to all Scottish teens. Below are a few examples of the steps we have taken before the programme begins to put these principles into practice:

  • Applicants who work creatively in any language are encouraged to apply. Additionally, one of the ten spaces is being funded by The Gaelic Books Council for a young person working in Gaelic language.
  • The application process was designed to be as accessible, welcoming and unintimidating to 14-17s as possible to ensure as many as possible felt confident applying.
  • The opportunity is being advertised to young people across Scotland in spaces beyond schools and libraries. Youth work centres & programmes, charities, shelters and community arts hubs have been helping to get this opportunity in sight of as many and varied teens in Scotland as possible. We have been interviewed by several youth media projects, such as VOMO.TV, ensuring that young people get a chance to interrogate the programme on each other’s behalf from the very beginning.
  • The mentoring programme will be tailored to each young person’s circumstances, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to how the benefits of the programme will be accessed by the young people.

Hannah Frood of VOMO.TV news interviews Scottish Book Trust’s Young Writers Co-Ordinator about What’s Your Story? for their broadcast on 28/08/15.
Hannah Frood of VOMO.TV news interviews Scottish Book Trust’s Young Writers Co-Ordinator about What’s Your Story? for their broadcast on 28/08/15.
How can any of that make Scotland fairer?
What makes What’s Your Story? a step towards a fairer Scotland is not just the content of the programme, but its ambitions for our teenagers.

Today’s debates, dialogues and outright fights over who is allowed to represent different communities, languages, regions, genres and forms of media will build tomorrow’s creative culture, here in Scotland and around the world. It has never been more clear that who is invited to respond to the question “What’s your story?” is a powerful expression of what a creative environment is made of and what its purpose is.

It is Scottish Book Trust’s belief that our young people have always deserved to be a part of our literary culture as creators and critics – not only as consumers – and that we have a responsibility to help them get involved.

Our ambition is that Scotland’s literary culture reflects a creative environment where fairness and equity mean something tangible for our teens; and where its purpose is to spark and foster the stories they can tell – if only we ask.


Other websites
Website, What’s Your Story?
The homepage for ‘What’s Your Story?’ – Scottish Book Trust’s new writer development programme for 14-17 year olds throughout Scotland. Visit for more information, online application form, and to submit further queries.

Website, Scottish Book Trust
Scottish Book Trust is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing.

Website, Time to Shine
Published by Creative Scotland on 8 November 2013, Scotland’s first National Youth Arts Strategy (Time to Shine) sets out a vision and key recommendations to enable Scotland’s children and young people to flourish and achieve, in and through the arts and creativity.

Website, The Gaelic Books Council
The Gaelic Books Council is the lead organisation with responsibility for supporting Scottish Gaelic authors and publishers, and for raising the profile and reach of Scottish Gaelic books in Scotland and internationally.

Riochachadh Òigridh na Gàidhealtachd

Dealbh buidheann bhon cho-chonaltradh samhraidh 2015
Dealbh buidheann bhon cho-chonaltradh samhraidh 2015
Kat Bateson.

‘S e aon de na àitichean as àlainn airson a’tadhail air neo a’fuireach ann ann am beachd daoine bho air feadh na dùthcha ‘s air feadh an t-saoghail a th’anns a’Ghàidhealtachd. Tha na coimhearsnachdan againn tric air fhaicinn mar taighean-seinnse seann-fhasanta air taobh na locha le bailtean beaga air falach eadar na beantann.

Cha chanainn gun robh sin ceàrr; tha ar dachaigh gu math bòidheach agus tha na daoine, nam beachd ‘sa, an fheadhainn as fheàrr.

Tha duilgheadas ann, ged ta, gu bheil ar sgìre iomallach ‘s farsaing. Eisimpleirean de seo ‘s e suidheachaidhean far nach eil goireasan a’bhaile ann, leithid àitichean mar an t-Eilean Sgitheanach.

Chan eil mòran seirbheisean còmhdhail a’dhol do Ulapul. ‘S e gnìomh a tha a’fas le casan ‘s gàirdeanan a tha pròiseact sam bith a tha air cur an cois airson na sgìre ‘s tha na corragan orra a’tighinn le duilgheadasan aca fhèin.

Buill ‘s seann neach-gairm òigridh a’coinneachadh ri Joe FitzPatrick BPANam measg seo tha guthan aig daoine tric air chall. A bharrachd air a seo, tha ar sluagh a’fàs nas sine – tha barrachd ‘s barrachd daoine òga a’fagail a’Ghàidhealtachd airson foghlam ‘s obair nach eil ri fhaighinn an seo.

Ged a tha, Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd ‘s nan Eileanan ann a-nis le taghadh farsaing de cùrsaichean, chan eil ceumannan leithid banaltrachd ri fhaighinn. ‘S e ioranas a th’ann gun fheum oileanaich banaltrachd a’ghluasad do Oilthigh Sruighlea dìreach airson tighinn air ais do dh’Inbhir Nis airson crìoch a chur air an greis-gnìomhachais aca.

Tha Pàrlamaid Òigridh na Gàidhealtachd airson guth a’thoirt do gach duine òga sa Ghàidhealachd, agus airson na cuspairean aca a’cur an ceill do na oifigearan ‘s eagrachaidhean a b’urainn cùisean atharrachadh dhaibh.

Tha fòram òigridh aig gach sgìre-sgoile agus fòram òigridh airson na 8 sgìrean den Chòmhairle. Tha iad a’coinneachadh air an cinn fhèin cho tric ‘s a dh’fheumas iad airson a’deiligeadh ri cuspairean ionadail ‘s airson buaidh deimhinneach a’dhèanamh air a choimhearsnachd aca.

A bharrachd air a seo tha dà cho-chonaltraidhean gach bliadhna far a bheil 100 riochdairean bho air feadh a’Ghàidhealtachd a’tighinn còmhla airson beachdachadh air an obair aca, dè ‘s urrainn dhaibh a’dhèanamh mar sgìre agus airson gabhail pàirt ann an seiseanan le luchd-obrach ‘s eagrachaidhean a tha an sàs. Tha cuideachd Neach-Gairm Òigridh a tha fastaichte leis a’Chomhairle airson a bhith ag èisteachd ri ‘s a’bruidhinn airson daoine òga ris a’Chomhairle fhèin.

“Bha an seisean foghlam gu math fiosrachail ‘s inntinneach agus bha cothrom againn beachdachadh air taghadh farsaing de cuspairean an cois foghlam. Dh’ionnsaich mi rudan mu dheidhinn an t-siostam nach robh mi eòlach air roimhe agus ‘s urrainn dhomh a’roinn le daoine eile anns an sgoil agam.”
Amandeep Kainth, Acadamaidh Alanis

Choinnich buidhean bhon Pàrlamaid Òigridh na Gàidhealtachd agus Bhuill-Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ri Ministear airson Gnìomhan Pàrlamaideach, Joe FitzPatrick BPA o chionn goirid. Bha còmhradh aca mu dheidhinn na cuspairean a tha a’buntainn ris an sgìre againn, leithid faotainneachd còmhdhail ‘s foghlam do dhaoine òg mu dheidhinn euslainteach-inntinn. Cuideachd thuirt iad gun robh iad den bheachd gun fheum an Riaghaltas ‘s a’Còmhairle barrachd a’dhèanamh airson cuideachadh feadhainn ann an bochdainn ‘s cùram.

Bha a’choinneamh air leth soirbheachail, agus cuideachd ‘s e cothrom math dha-rìreabh a bh’ann do dhaoine òga airson ag obair còmhla ri Riaghaltas na h-Alba ann an dòigh dìreach ‘s fìor.

Sgioba Pàrlamaid Òigridh na Gàidhealtachd ag obair le SPEAK airson a’deiligeadh le cuspairean euslainteach inntinn
Sgioba Pàrlamaid Òigridh na Gàidhealtachd ag obair le SPEAK airson a’deiligeadh le cuspairean euslainteach inntinn.
‘S e na gnìomhan seo an fheadhainn a tha a’sealltainn cho cudromach ‘s a tha Pàrlamaid Òigridh na Gàidhealtachd don sgìre againn ‘s na daoine òga a tha a’fuireach ann. Nam broinn tha sinn a’lorg dòigh nas fheàrr airson adhartachadh còmhla. Tha sinn a’dèanamh cìnnteach gu bheil na seirbheisean ‘s na pròiseactan a’toirt taic do gach duine òga, gun diofar air na suideachaidhean aca.

Tha a’Phàrlamaid a’riochdachadh buidheann daoine òga ag obair còmhla airson adhartas dhan sgìre againn, agus tha iad a’dol calg-dhìreach an aghaidh an gnàth-ìomhaigh a th’anns na meadhanan gu bheil daoine òga leisg ‘s mi-choibhneil.

Tha mi gu math phròiseil a bhith ag obair còmhla ris a’Phàrlamaid Òigridh air sgath ‘s gu bheil iad a’treòrachadh air na cuspairean a th’aca. Chan eil iad a’dèanamh Gàidhealtachd nas cothromaiche airson daoine òga a-mhàin, ach Alba nas cothromaiche airson a h-uile duine.