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Children and young people from all 96 of Scotland’s inhabited islands – including Gigha, Islay and Jura – will be able to have their say and make their voices heard on issues in their communities through the setting up of a new forum.
The new Young Islanders Network will enable children and young people to help shape the delivery of the National Islands Plan, ensuring their interests and priorities are properly considered.
The network – which will initially meet virtually due to Covid restrictions – will also give those involved an opportunity to build their confidence, develop key skills such as leadership and organisation and to develop new relationships and friendships with others.
The network will explore issues such as the depopulation of islands and, crucially, will provide an opportunity for young islanders to raise the issues that matter to them most and make their views known.
The project will also include a five-week online mental health awareness programme through Mental Health partners Place2Be for those working with young islanders.
Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP said: ‘I am pleased that the Scottish Government is able to now establish this new and exciting network. The network creates a great opportunity for children and young people on our islands to get involved in having their say and making their views known on key island issues and to help shape the future of their communities.
‘Our extensive National Islands Plan consultation made it clear that a network of this nature would be hugely beneficial, and that it will help to provide us with a better understanding of the experiences and views of children and young people and, through that, ultimately help us to create a better, more diverse living experience for all our islanders of all ages.
‘The network will also be hugely beneficial to those involved, as they will have the chance to be part of an exciting project, gaining valuable insights and developing themselves at the same time. I encourage all children and young people living on our islands to get involved, if they can – and I say to them: if you take the time to make your voice heard, the government and I will take the time to listen to you.’
Youth Scotland is setting up the new forum.
Youth Scotland’s chief executive Ian McLaughlan, said: ‘Youth Scotland believes in better outcomes for all young people – whether that’s in our urban cities and towns, rural communities or Scotland’s island communities.
‘We are proud of our reach, membership and participation within the island communities. The Young Islander’s Challenge is another fantastic opportunity to not only be inclusive of young people living there, but to put them front and centre of a project for and about them.
‘Thanks to our partnership with the Scottish Government and our island communities, we can work together to deliver both short-term and lasting impact. I would urge any young person or group in our island communities to jump in, have your say and be part of something bigger.’
The full cost for delivering the Pilot Young Islanders Network will be £28,500.
To find out more, visit youthscotland.org.uk/programmes/young-islanders-challenge