In September 2022 Keith Brown MSP, the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Justice, visited Inside Out at HMPYOI Polmont.

‘Inside Out’ is a steering group for care-experienced boys and young men in HMPYOI Polmont and is run in collaboration with Youth Justice Voices, CYCJ and the Barnardo’s youth work ‘Outside In’ team funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

Established in 2020, the project aims to creatively amplify voice by supporting the boys and young men from Inside Out “to speak out”. This allows their voices not only to be heard, but to be acted on in the justice system, and gives them the chance to explore and share their experiences with policymakers, managers, corporate partners and the Scottish Government.  

Members 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 YOI 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 YOI to help others who might go through that situation, so they understand their rights and entitlements. We have been blown away by all of the group members' creativity, humility, respect and desire to participate in the project.


The visit from the Cabinet Secretary was an opportunity for him to see first-hand the work undertaken by the Inside Out group and how it benefits those at HMPYOI Polmont.  

Below are direct quotes from the young men who participate in the project about the visit and their experiences in general: 


  • “I got moved with ten minutes’ notice. I was care-experienced and had so many moves it made it hard to want tomake relationships with workers or keep these relationships. I wish I had the opportunity to stay longer at secure care.”
  • “We worked really hard on trying to work with lawyers to take away the jargon, so we [young people] could understand the legal system.”
  • “Youth Work [Barnardo’s] really cares about you. They’re the ones that are there for you when nobody else is. When you’re down or when you’re not sure how to achieve your goal, they help you and support you. They are the backbone of Polmont and don’t always get recognised for what they do.”
  • “The group gives us a voice to talk about what goes on in the day-to-day regime. A group like this actually has direct influence. We are reflecting on the mistakes that the system has made in the past or present. We can communicate what went wrong and how the situation could be handled differently.”
  • “Communication in other establishments might have broken down. Groups like this help communication between young people and staff.”
  • “This group gives and has a purpose – we aren’t just talking; we are taking action.”
  • “When it’s your first time in jail [a youth offenders' institution], you might feel like you are going to spend 24/7 in the halls and might not have much interaction with officers. Youth work staff are brand new, and they talk and take an interest in you and how your day has been. They want you to do well and strive to push you forward and get you out of the hall.”

To find out more about Inside Out check out the page here or email [email protected]

Herald article on Cabinet Secretary’s visit