We are delighted Inside Out, our steering group of care experienced young men at HMPYPOI has been shortlisted for the Pioneering Project at 2022's SCVO Charity Awards. Alongside this award, Inside Out are also eligible for the People's Choice Award and that's where you come in! Read on to find out what Inside Out does and why they should get your vote...

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What does Inside Out do?

Our project aims to creatively amplify voice by supporting the boys and young men from Inside Out "to speak out" so their voices are not only heard but acted on in the justice system, and explore and share their experiences with policymakers, managers, corporate parents and the Scottish Government. We go into Polmont on a weekly basis offering pro-social, personal development and participatory, relationship-based, influencing opportunities.

We nominated Inside Out for the Pioneering Project award as recognition of their commitment, passion and drive to ensure that children and young people are not only heard but know their rights and have them upheld and respected. We are working collaboratively with Inside Out members to produce child-friendly guidance on rights and to raise issues which affect one of the most seldom heard and discriminated groups in society.


Why should they win this award?

Members of Inside Out volunteer their time and choose to take part in the project on a weekly basis. There are no conditions or sanctions attached to their attendance. They choose to participate in the steering group because they are passionate about using their experiences and time in a Y.O.I positively to ensure that children and young people who go through the care and justice systems do not have the same negative experiences that they had. They also participate so they can use their knowledge, skills and experiences of being in a Y.O.I to help others who might go through that situation so they understand their rights and entitlements. I have been blown away by all of the group members' creativity, humility, respect and desire to participate in the project. As well as contributing to consultations, producing guidance on rights which has been published and distributed across the YOI (attached). They have also came up with inventive ideas to help others during COVID - interviews, writing raps and poetry and activities for other's to beat boredom in their cells by creating a newsletter for everyone. This award would be a massive boost for the group a recognition for their hard work.


Tell us about a specific moment or incident that sums up the impact of your work

I would say seeing things in print has been most impactful to Inside Out members. Often the boys and young men have been asked their views about the same things throughout their life and never see changes, they don't receive feedback or see the impact contributing has had. They can feel disillusioned and a bit like "what's the point". Some of the group reviewed guidance from the Children and Young People's Commissioner and CYCJ on what children and young people's rights in custody were. They reviewed and changed the language to make it more accessible. This was then published so that every child and young person in Polmont has received this. Seeing this published and in print in all the halls was huge. In addition to this the group designed their own official Inside Out logo which was included on the flyer. A logo which also went onto the newsletter they created over several weeks. They could see their poems, raps, interviews and everything printed in colour. Whilst we couldn't work directly with a designer the group described, sketched, shaped and have their ideas relayed- then review the designs and see that their aspirations and words were published.


What motivated you to start the project?

Due to previous work between Staf and CYCJ we identified that there was a real gap and need for participation projects for care-experienced young people in the justice system . The project was established to provide opportunities for young people "inside to speak out" to lead and direct system change and to have their participation rights respected. The project has strategic significance because previous to this project there was a lack of participation work involving justice experienced children and young people in Scotland, with a lack of prioritisation for participation in youth justice contexts. The project therefore has an important strategic role in demonstrating that participation in a youth justice context matters and is possible, modelling an ethical and right-based approach, and supporting other organisations/partners to engage in participation work. We also wanted to tackle the stigma and discrimination that this group faced so felt this was only possible by creating a flexible youth-led steering group within HMPYOI Polmont with Barnardo's enabling young people to shape and lead the work of the project, ensuring that the opportunities we offer are creative, accessible and make a difference. The focus on rights and desire to improve conditions came entirely from young people.


What did you do?

We worked collaboratively with Barnardo's to identify care-experienced boys and young men within HMPYOI who wanted the opportunity to have their voices heard and to take part in a project which they could direct and shape. We offered and continue to offer weekly group sessions which enable group members to have fun and talk about the issues which are important to them as well as plan and work on project ideas. The boys have had to adapt to significant change over the past year as a result of COVID restrictions this has meant significant restrictions have been put in place to prevent spread of the virus. This has meant the regime and programme was drastically reduced for a period of time. We have been amazed at how well Barnardo's youth work team have tried to keep participation alive via email a prisoner, calls, activity packs and so on. We have been back in the establishment running Inside Out after a break from August 2021 - all of the achievements and work we have outlined above such as the newsletter and rights work has taken place from then. With support the group also responded to the Scottish Government's consultation on Bail, Remand and Release which is an important proposal to policy change. The group were thanked and commended for their participation in this. We believe that Inside Out group members and our partners Barnardo's have worked incredibly hard to adapt to change and to ensure the project got back up and running as soon as it was safe to do so. We believe the boys and young men should be commended for their commitment - despite a break they have returned eager and welcomed new members to the group. Their passion and interest has not wavered.


How do you know the project has been a success?

When we told the members of Inside Out we were nominating them for this award we asked them why the project was pioneering and successful. Here’s what they said:

“We’re Inside Out telling the truth about the system a lot of people overlook young people in custody and the rights that they have”.

We have also included quotes from our evaluations.


Participation is completely voluntary. There are no sanctions or conditions attached. Boys and young men in the project have also spoken about the project to their peers in the halls. We have since had more young people actively asking to attend. We are also achieving what we set out to do – creatively amplifying voice in a challenging space where amplifying voice can be difficult. Inside Out members are achieving what they have wanted to do “to speak out” and influence change.

We'd love you to show the young men of Inside Out your support by giving them your vote for the People's Choice Award.

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