Argyll and Bute Council gain plaudits for youth work progress

The report's authors, John Ross Scott, right, and Kristopher Leask, say progress has been made. NO F26 JR report
The report's authors, John Ross Scott, right, and Kristopher Leask, say progress has been made.

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Argyll and Bute Council has been praised for what has been described as making ‘great strides’ towards improving young people engagement over the past year.’

The comments come in a new report following up on a ground-breaking study originally published in 2018.

Orkney councillor John Ross Scott and colleague Kristopher Leask released their report, ‘Being Heard’ in 2018 and their newly released follow-up study on progress made in a year, shows that overall, local authorities in Scotland, even those that had to endure cuts in services, made progress during 2019 towards improving the role of young people in decision-making, but only when lead councillors and officials take a keen interest in engagement does the process become anything other than tokenistic.

‘Being Heard: One Year On’ highlights the importance of allowing young people a full say at the heart of decision making – whether serving on committees or Community Planning Partnerships in an ex-officio capacity, or in feeding views through Youth Forums to councillors serving as Young People’s Champions who speak on behalf of, and work with, young people locally.

It argues that the 1948 Education Act should be revised, allowing parents and students their place on each of Scotland’s 32 council’s Education Committees.

The authors – through evidence collected from all of Scotland’s councils and national bodies – reveal that while CLD and youth workers across Scotland are working tirelessly to promote and enhance the voice of youth in decision making there remains in many councils a clear disconnect between councillors and young people, with many councillors still dubious about the benefits of inclusion.

Mr Scott, a former leader of Scottish Borders Council, said: ‘We used the same format of evidence collection for all councils to ensure there was no bias in the study.

‘Our original Being Heard Report was a snapshot in time on young people engagement. What it could not show was the speed at which progress was being made. This study allowed us to track progress or the lack of it over the past year.’

On progress made by Argyll and Bute Council, Mr Scott commented: ‘Argyll and Bute has made great strides into improving young people engagement over the past year by appointing not one but four district Young People Champions to collect the view of young people and bring them to the heart of decision making and by ensuring young people have a voice on the Community Planning Partnership.

‘The council only received a ‘progress’ response rather than ‘significant progress’ rating because we are yet to see the evidence and outcomes associated with these bold yet welcome moves.’

NO F26 JR report