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Daily Record
Daily Record
Shannon Milmine

South Lanarkshire youths get engaged in local and national politics

Youths in South Lanarkshire have been politically engaged and raised important issues to improve their communities.

At the Education Resources Committee this week, councillors heard of the hard work carried out by South Lanarkshire Youth Council and the success achieved by local youths in the Scottish Youth Parliament.

South Lanarkshire has a good record of receiving national recognition for its youth participation in developing democratic literacy. Recognition has come through Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education reports, the Care Commission’s report, the Scottish Youth Parliament and the National Youth Work Managers group.

There has been continued success which was achieved through the increase of voter turnout for the Scottish Youth Parliaments (SYP) in November which saw over 8000 young people casting their ballots to elect nine young people to represent their views and concerns.

South Lanarkshire Youth Council (SLYC) is made up of young people aged 12 to 25 who ensure the views of South Lanarkshire young people are fully represented. Opportunities through the youth council help to remove barriers and fully encourage young people to participate to air their views.

The youth council has been successful in raising issues and making achievements. Since April 2022, the group has completed induction training for new members which included sessions on committee skills, minutes taking, chairing a meeting, engaging with elected members and structure of youth services across the council.

The group elected the new SLYC board which included a chair, vice chair, social media officers, inclusion and diversity officer and an events officer.

SLYC liaise with members of the Scottish Youth Parliament to ensure national issues have a platform.

SLYC consulted with secondary school pupils across the area and a recent issue which has arisen is the cost, portion size and calorific value of school meals. The issue led to a meeting with the council’s community and enterprise resources to gain a better understanding of the school meals, and further engagement to help plan menus within schools has also been organised.

The group also engaged in discussions with Housing and Technical Resources to establish a Youth Housing Forum across South Lanarkshire to improve understanding of the housing needs of the future and the current challenges facing young people entering the housing market or securing their first tenancy.

Active recruitment of new members of South Lanarkshire Youth Council is a continuous process; most recently there’s been an increase in the membership in the East Kilbride area with eight new members, ahead of new members joining in other geographical areas.

There are nine young people representing their constituency at a national level at the SYP.

South Lanarkshire representatives were elected in November 2021, the members serve two years and can stand for a total of four years service within the SYP.

The nine members of the SYP for South Lanarkshire are: Bethany Ivison (Clydesdale), Mitchell Frame (Clydesdale), Jack Donaghy (East Kilbride), Lennon Boyle (East Kilbride), Brooke Carracher (Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse), Jude Tennyson (Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse), Crisantos Bonaba Ike (Rutherglen – also Chair of South Lanarkshire Youth Council), Rachel Campbell (Rutherglen) and Andrew Stronach (Uddingston and Bellshill).

Members of the SYP have actively lobbied on behalf of their constituencies nationally and represented young people on national working groups.

For example, the members contributed to discussions about how the curriculum for excellence needs to be an anti-racist curriculum, representing the voices of young black people and young people of colour within the education system.

Some of the key issues covered were that educators need to be given more training when it comes to tackling discrimination in the classroom, as well as coming up with key principles for young people, as well as educators.

The Rise Project was a youth-led campaign that was created due to the success of a motion presented by Crisantos Bonaba Ike and Victory (former MSYP for East Kilbride) at the 73rd Scottish Youth Parliament sitting.

The campaign advocates for the reform of the Scottish Curriculum and the upliftment of the successes of BAME young people. Crisantos is keen to revisit this campaign considering the work of the Race Equality and Anti-Racism in Education Programme

South Lanarkshire councillors praised the work of the members on both the SLYC and the SYP.

Councillor Ross Clark (Larkhall) “I’d just first of all like to welcome the report. There’s a lot of good work in engaging young people not only with youth issues but other issues in general. I read stuff about bringing back youth housing forms, there’s lots of issues that face young people.

“Moving onto some of my other questions, it talks about the turn out for the Scottish Youth Parliament elections. I’m wondering if there’s a breakdown of that in terms of areas or constituencies within South Lanarkshire, if there are any particular areas lagging behind or doing really well for that. And generally what are we going to do to target those areas if they are lagging behind?

“And more specifically how do we target or engage with young people who have left school to help them get engaged with the youth council or the Youth Scottish Parliament – it’s a bit more difficult because we can’t go directly into schools to engage with them? But there will be a large cohort naturally because the age does go up to 25 and there will be people who are not in school so it might be a bit harder to engage with them?”

It was confirmed that the turnout for the Scottish Youth Parliament vote was highest in East Kilbride with 57.3 per cent of .young people voting. This was followed by Hamilton where around 40 per cent took part in voting, 25.4 per cent voted in Clydesdale and 25 per cent of young people voted in Cambuslang and Rutherglen.

Out of 17 secondary schools across South Lanarkshire, 15 were involved, so the schools involvement was very significant as well as voter turnout.

The council have a universal connections centre in all localities which engages a lot of young people, there is a captive audience and an age range which includes older young people who are engaged.

Councillor Elise Frame (Avondale and Stonehouse), questioned if there will be other resources made available for young people.

She said: “MSPs are another resource available for schools to use. This will allow children to have a bridge between themselves and decision makers. With this in mind, will we improve the knowledge of resources in our school and in our community?”

There are dedicated officers who promote the work of the MSPs and they are in contact with schools, but an emphasis will be placed on promoting the work of MSPs and the engagement between the youth parliament.

Councillor Bert Thomson (Blantyre) noted that there are areas where young people could be more engaged.

He said: “Just to note the young people involved in their community and the youth parliament and politics in general . I think one of the places we missed out on was maybe particular community councils, they are the first point of local government. In my experience, I know a lot of young people attend them and it would be great if we could maybe encourage some of these young people to go to these things and eventually lead on to the Scottish parliament.”

Some schools are actively involved in community councils, but there will now be a focus on spreading it further.

Chairwoman of the education resources committee, Lynsey Hamilton (Clydesdale West), said: “The work that some of our youth services do have been amazing, we’ve had the pleasure of attending quite a few of their events over the past few months and they’ve been really good and we’ve discussed as chair and deputy chair about getting a session going, maybe getting some of the MSYPs and some of the youth council in to speak to the councillors about the work they’re doing because it is extensive.”

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