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Highland youth participation has voice in planning of public services

25th May 2013

Photograph of Highland youth participation has voice in planning of public services

Members of the Highland Council’s Adult and Children Services Committee heard this week that young people’s participation is making a positive difference in the planning and provision of children’s services in The Highland Council, Police Scotland Highland and Islands Division, and NHS Highland.

Ainya Taylor, Highland Youth Convener, and Highland Youth Voice members, Sannies Macleod from Wick, Bee Nicolson from Inverness and Finlay Allmond from Nairn gave a presentation on how Youth Participation is helping service providers to improve services and how it also helps them, as young people, develop.

Supporting their presentation was for Police Scotland Highland and Islands Division, Chief Superintendent Julian Innes, who shared his experiences of how Highland Youth Voice has helped with recent developments in the police service.

Highland Youth Convener, Ainya Taylor said: “It is important to have effective engagement with young people through local youth groups and through Highland Youth Voice. It is also important that there are strong links with services so that there is two-way flow of information.”

She added: “Youth Participation is: involving young people in policy development; service planning and service delivery. It benefits the Council and public organisations because:

it allows them to improve services based on the views of young people;
encourages organisations to design services which properly meet the needs of young people;
supports the current focus on "preventative expenditure" by taking account of service users' views at an early stage in service design;
it encourages young people to have an interest in politics, and understand how local and national decision making processes are managed.”
Also presenting their experiences of youth participation were: Sannies Macleod from Wick, Bee Nicolson from Inverness, and Finlay Allmond from Nairn.

Sannies Macleod said: “We have recently been discussing young people's needs and experiences of NHS Highland locally in Caithness. This is particularly useful for me as a young person with diabetes but also for my peers who have had different needs and experiences. It's good they are listening to what we have to say.”

Bee Nicolson added: “Police Scotland recently consulted with us on community safety and police engagement. I felt like we were genuinely being listened to by Julian Innes and his team and as a result, local actions such as the implementation of speed checks outside secondary schools and police officers/youth development officer link ups have happened with other longer term plans being set too.”

Finlay Allmond said: “I particularly enjoyed being involved in the Highland Council budget consultation where Nairn Highland Youth Voice and youth forum members went in to primary schools to consult with primary children on the proposal around the primary school day.”

Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent Julian Innes explained how the Police had been consulting with Highland Youth Voice, he said: “We listened to a wide variety of very persuasive views from Highland Youth Voice at their conference in Badaguish. The three top priorities that came to the surface which they wanted the Police to address were drugs, alcohol abuse and road safety. Since then we have acted upon young peoples’ concerns and have introduced road safety enforcement around schools and have made 3,264 vehicle checks, 84 drivers being charged, 71 of which were for speeding charges.”

He added: “Young people also wanted to know who their local Police officers are, so we acted upon this and have taken photographs of each secondary school’s local officer and posted this on their notice boards. We also engage with, and get support from 16 year olds who assist us with test purchasing of alcohol which targets premises that sell alcohol to young people.. The desire of young people to be heard is now included in our Policing Plans for the Highland and Islands area.”

The Adult and Children’s Services Committee agreed that the Council’s Director of Health and Social Care will work with youth participation structures to ensure that young people are involved in the planning, delivery and evaluation of For Highland’s Children 4.

Councillor Alasdair Christie, Chair of the Council’s Adult and Children’s Services Committee thanked Julian Innes and the Highland Youth Convener and Youth Voice members for their presentation, he said: “The Highland Youth parliament has developed and grown, particularly in the area of engaging disadvantaged young people. We hope it continues to grow and develop for young people in the Highlands and appreciate the support that High Life Highland and The Highland Council give to enable young people to have a voice.”

The Adult and Children’s Services Committee agreed that the Council’s Director of Health and Social Care will work with youth participation structures to ensure that young people are involved in the planning, delivery and evaluation of the new integrated plan for children’s services.

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