Since the turn of a new year, there’s been new goals and initiatives set out and acted upon by the members of YJU.

Already the members have contributed to the content of Dr Claire Lightowler’s Kilbrandon lecture. This isn’t the first time the YJU team have explored the children’s rights respected approach, having contributed to the design of an easy read version of the report in 2019. This time Dr. Lightowler was seeking consultation from the group on what key aspects of a rights respecting approach should be honed in on, when she delivered the 19th Kilbrandon lecture.

Using knowledge of the systems they’ve been involved in and combining it with what they feel are successes, particularly on the YJU project, our members insightfully explained to Dr. Lightowler that relationship-based practice and having the ability to participate in the structure of these systems, could be a springboard to seeing a children’s rights respected agenda being taken in Scotland.

Our members have used YJU as a platform to, amongst other work, consult the Scottish Government on their youth justice strategies and feel that the relationship-based practice at the heart of our project is exactly what makes them feel confident to contribute and valued when they do. Reflected was the strength and scope of positive direction that can be established when time is taken to build relationships with young people and valuing their voice and opinions.

Encouragingly after two years of lockdown our group was again able to meet in person for a trip to bowling this month. Two years of online participation, where throughout we’ve been looking to welcome new members and let young people know that pandemic or not their right to participation is unchanged.

Having taken this onboard Dr. Lightowler delivered her lecture in which she cited the response she had got from our members. The bread-and-butter aspects of strong relationships and meaningful participation our project involves, meant the voices of care and justice experienced young people were heard by hundreds at the lecture for the first time. Resolute in their belief these principles are ones to be followed, because of positive experiences at YJU, our young people feel the narrative changing and now that our project has been granted three more years of funding, are excited about participation opportunities being opened to them, and every other care and justice experienced young person in the country.

Recently some members of Inside Out were able to look at the government’s proposals for change to the Bail and Remand policies and procedures. They reflected annoyance in their response as to how unengaging and non-participatorily the document was. And they were hugely disappointed at yet another piece of legislation being designed without the meaningful participation of those with lived experience but remain confident their participation is making a difference and that increasingly their voice is being valued at strategic level.

You can read our response to the Kilbrandon lecture in our recent blog or watch the full lecture online.